I’ve stuck a new feature on my Books Read statistics, which is Pages Read; and it’s not just for the sake of having more statistics (though I do like statistics for their own sake). I bought the other day a book called The State of Africa by Martin Meredith – it’s a history of Africa since independence – and I quickly read the first 100 pages and found it all fascinating. And yet now I find myself unwilling to pick it up again – and why? Because it’s 700 pages long; and because it’s 700 pages long, I won’t finish it by the end of the month; and if I don’t finish it by the end of the month, I can’t include it in my monthly figures and I won’t reach my targets. (Targets, as we all know, just encourage gaming – which, in this case, consists of reading only short books).
I figure then that Books Read is actually acting as a disincentive to read long books (which frankly I don’t need, since I don’t tend to read them anyway), even if I happen to be enjoying them.
So there you are: that’s my rationale. The figures for previous years are:
2009: Books (97), Pages (19852), Ave Bk Length (204.66)
2010: Books (100), Pages (21680), Ave Bk Length (216.80)
2011: Books (63), Pages (14277), Ave Bk Length (226.62)
which roughly agrees with my general feeling that I’ve been reading longer books year on year.
So what target should I set myself? – Perhaps 22,500. (Hmm, that means – at my current rate – I’ll have to find an extra 1000 pages from somewhere, or 250 per month).
(The accounting part of my brain reminds me I’m going to need to do accruals as well at the end of each book-reading year: i.e. count up the number of pages I’ve read in books I haven’t yet finished, then add this figure to the current year and subtract it from the upcoming year. Obviously this won’t work in 2011 since I don’t know the figure to subtract at the start of the year).
I could do with a monthly figure as well (otherwise I won’t have circumvented the general problem).
Of course, this then creates a disincentive to finish books, which is also probably not a good thing.