Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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I don’t think that word means what you think it means —

Gallup reports: Rumors of the demise of books is greatly exaggerated.

Which is all very well, but let me draw your attention to this bit:

Despite the abundance of digital diversions vying for their time and attention, most Americans are still reading books. In fact, they are consuming books at nearly the same rate that they were when Gallup last asked this question in 2002 — before smartphones, Facebook or Twitter became ubiquitous. More than one in three (35%) appear to be heavy readers, reading 11 or more books in the past year

… and come on. You call that “heavy readers”? I think you need to break down your 35% into actual no kidding heavy readers — shall we say fifty or more books per year, picture books don’t count? — and use some other term for people who read fewer than that.

Me, given that I’m writing, I read about 100 books a year. I used to read about twice that. I would call myself a heavy reader, but fifty and above seems like it should count as well. I bet those of you who read way more books than I do might draw the line higher than fifty. But seriously, who thinks that 11 books a year makes someone a heavy reader? Sheesh.

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7 Comments I don’t think that word means what you think it means —

  1. Laurel Bliss

    As someone who read 280 books in 2016 (thanks for that info, Goodreads!), I agree that “heavy reader” should be for 50+ books/year. I mean, 11 is not bad, but it is far from heavy.

  2. Jo in OKC

    GoodReads clocks me as 373 books in 2016, but that includes 195 picture books, 15 graphic novels/comics collections, and 14 short stories/novellas.

    That doesn’t include the 34 books I re-read in 2016.

    I’m good with somewhere around 50 (non-picture) books a year being the cutoff for “heavy” readers. Maybe those reading 11 or more books a year are “frequent” readers.

  3. Pete Mack

    I’d say 26+/year qualifies. If you are reading non-fiction primarily, a book every other week is a whole lot. For non-fiction, even a book a month is pretty serious. It took me a month each to read “Team of Rivals” and “Hamilton”.

  4. Jo in OKC

    But those are some serious doorstop-sized books (900+ and 700+ pages). Not all non-fiction is that big.

    Two examples from my recent reading:

    Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is non-fiction and is probably only a 2 hour read.

    The Org: The Underlying Logic of the Office by Ray Fisman is maybe 3-4 hours.

    Some books are just longer than other books and even when read at a good clip still take a while. (Contrast the length and thus the time it takes to read early books by Tamora Pierce — say _Alanna: The First Adventure_, with a more recent book by her, like _Mastiff_. Of course, it will take longer to read the later book because the page counts are so drastically different.)

    It is true, though, that some writing is denser and must be read more slowly. In general for me, non-fiction is slower to read than fiction, but I don’t think it’s THAT much slower.

  5. Rachel

    While nonfiction is slower for me than fiction, the difference isn’t great enough to make me want to cut the >50 line by half.

    Also, this has to do with how I personally read nonfiction. I’m dipping into about four nonfiction books right now — Washington’s Spies, and The Age of Empathy by Frans de Waal, and a book called Crazy Good, about a famous racehorse. I expect I’ll finish all those this year, eventually, but I’m not reading them straight through the way I do fiction, so counting them as one per week or two per month doesn’t work.

    Anyway, fewer than fifty books a year just doesn’t seem like enough to count as a heavy reader to me. Not when there are so many people who read way more than that.

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