Sunday, January 28, 2018

Avoiding Writing . . .

 . . . is one of the best ways to get a lot of reading done.

In the last 8 days, I've managed to get through four novels:

The Heritage of Hastur by Marion Zimmer Bradley (350 pg)
The Spell Sword by Bradley (150 pg)
The Face in the Frost by John Bellairs (150 pg)
Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson (650 pg)

Ever since I started college, I thought authors who wrote long novels (i.e., 500 pg+) were guilty of bad manners against poor, time-constrained scholars, but by gosh if I didn't breeze through that Sanderson. (Of course, prior to formally re-starting school in 2003, I loved excessively long novels -- re-read them multiple times, even.) So, 1300 pages in 8 days is a pretty good rate for me nowadays, especially as its mid-semester and I'm still teaching. 

My all-time record, as far as I can remember, was during my MA comps, when I read 1600 pages in 8 days -- both Elliot's Middlemarch and Thackeray's Vanity Fair. At 200 pages a day, reading maybe 40 pages an hour, that's 5 hours of reading per day, which doesn't sound like a lot but, somehow, for me,  always has been, at least day after day like that.

Indeed, back during my undergrad and Master's program, I used to keep semester logs of my reading productivity. I generally averaged 70 pages a day throughout the semester. My all-time best came one semester when I averaged 100 pages a day, although that was supplemented by breezing through all the Harry Potter books, which seems a bit like cheating since that productivity record also included critical theory and postmodern novels.

I haven't kept those logs since 2009, however. They're impractical anyways, at least given how I studied during my doctorate. When you "gut" a book of literary criticism for its main ideas, you only read a fraction of the actual sentences written. That's why reading novels actually takes me much longer now than reading books of criticism.

Still, I don't want to become one of those Ph.D who stop reading after their official schooling is over. The temptation's there -- reading for fun almost seems like a waste of time, especially when you're teaching full-time and married. But I try to remember why I started on this academic life in the first place.

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