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Going by Number of Books

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How many books can a person read in one year?

Sarah Weinman’s interview is published in this USA Today page who claims to have read 462 books in 2008 alone.A survey done in America in 2007 pointed that one in four Americans haven’t read a single book in the past year.I recently read that Khuswant Singh read nearly 27 books last year.

So what is that in reading? Does the content matter, or is it just the overall feel of understanding a book? I read lots of non-fiction without stumbling, but come fiction I don’t understand whether to scrape through the pages saving time only savoring a few thought-provoking lines or try wading upstream against the river called ‘book’ not trying to miss a single word.I did that and could hardly cross 1 pages for every five minutes( I clocked my reading speed by reading Catch-22 for 40 random selected pages).That totals to 100 words per minute.

Everyday thousands of books are released , out of them a handful may be worth a read. More importantly, if reading for content is concerned ,say, as reading Classical Literature, if a person is a slow-reader he may not even finish half of this list of ‘Best Books of the 20th century’ from goodreads.com. Leaving out a person’s pleasure reading list, what about the books he reads for his work? In spite of a person’s work life, can he/she read really large number of books and recall nearly everything ,say, ‘that’ important word Marcel Proust used to describe Baron de Charlus in Remembrance of Things Past?

Thinking of a solution to gobble up more books, I came across How to Read Faster and Recall More by Gordon Wainwright(ISBN-978 1 84803 048 0).After finishing this book, now I feel that we can train our brain to consume more each time. But as the author tells, 70% retention would be sufficient in a normal scenario and we should try reaching that mark.What if we want to increase that percent to 90? I can’t think of any solutions without slowing down. Concentration would help but as the research has indicated, it doesn’t persist long enough. This makes us to go back and try increasing our concentration capacity and then endeavor enhancing our reading skills.Practice can also be an attractive option.

Finally, regardless of the speed with which one reads a book, I feel that reading depends on what you want to derive out of the book- Trivia stuff or acknowledging the literary merit of the author or whatever it is.

So, how many books have you read in the past year and on what parameters you base your reading?Any other opinions?

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