Enough Time To… Read Books (Experiment Results)

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about the feeling that after a life spent with my head stuck in a book, I no longer have time to indulge, instead snatching pieces of time here and there. I’m worried that the ability to just sit and read for an extended period of time is a skill I have lost. I undertook a reading experiment, to document what and when I am reading.

Spaceperson BookSo please, sit back, remove your space helmet (the oxygen generators are fully functioning), and join us in analysing the results.

1/ Physical Books Are No Longer My Main Form of Reading Material

1 Media Type

Daily Breakdown

Audiobook

I listen to Audiobooks more than twice as much as I read physical books. I’m genuinely not too sure how I feel about this. I love my audiobooks, because of the convenience, and good voice acting can really bring them to life. I don’t find myself visualising as much when I listen to audiobooks however – I have, on occasion, decided to read the paper copy of some books for a fuller experience. When I am listening to audiobooks, the majority of the time I am also doing something else – driving or housework, or they are reading me to sleep (much like childhood, this is a very pleasant way to go to sleep at night, although I always have to “rewind” the story in the morning, because most of it gets lost). This may account for why I feel I am not so immersed in the stories when “reading” in this format. I also read blogs a lot, and my comics are in PDF. The only paper I handled during the week was a book that I grabbed from my shelf, and Money Magazine. The realisation that the majority of my reading is no longer in the form of traditional books makes me feel a little sad, or perhaps it is simply nostalgia for the “freedom” of the past.

(An aside – for the frugal passengers. I am incredibly lucky that our local Council library provides access to Overdrive, which allows me to borrow audiobooks for free! I cannot recommend it highly enough. Check out your local library to see if this is an option for you. Even if not, our library allows people outside of the Council area to join for a nominal fee (around $18/year). When you consider the cost of audiobooks to purchase, or other subscription audiobook sites, this is well worth it.)

2/ My Reading Is Fragmented

Fragmented

Book

This is what I suspected – I am reading in short spurts throughout the day. The longest period I spent reading was on Sunday for 53 minutes (an audiobook), and the shortest period I spent reading was on Tuesday and Wednesday – 9 minutes on audiobooks again. On Friday I ended up listening to my audiobook 5 different times! I did have the Sunday of this week to myself, and found myself at one point thinking “I don’t really want to do anything, what can I do?” This is the one point where I think that being in the middle of the experiment, I consciously changed my behaviour. I decided to pick up the book from my shelf, and just sit … and … read. This was a joyful experience, because I did find myself lost in the book, not thinking about time. I even came back later and read again for another 20 minutes. For me, this put paid to my concern that I can no longer read for an extended period – I can. It’s just that I don’t.

3/ I Do Some Type of Reading For Pleasure Daily

Time Reading

Blog

Yes, I know the Saturday is blank, which means technically I didn’t read every day, but this Saturday was an exception. I had a full day social engagement that involved 6 hours travel, so by the time I got home I was too tired to even listen to my Audiobook before I went to sleep! If I continued the experiment, I feel confident that I would have read every day. And to me, this says yes…

4/ Reading IS Still a Big Part of My Life…

Magazine… it just takes many different forms. I think I have to mentally adjust to an understanding that reading, for me, is no longer defined by having a beautiful paper book in my hand. I have also learned that I have full control over how much I choose to spend reading physical books. If I want to sit and have a marathon binge reading session, all I need to do is make sure I set aside protected time to do it. OK, I admit that is far easier said than done at this point, but that is one of the points of this blog – to discover how I can make enough time to…

The chart below is an interactive version of the graphs above. Click around, have a play! If it doesn’t render on the device you are reading this on, head on over to our Tableau Public page and you can play there.

Has the type of material you read for leisure changed over the years? Have you noticed any other changes in your reading patterns?

Time well spent this trip…
Book: Chartbreak by Gillian Cross
Comic: Pathfinder – City of Secrets
Tabletop RPG: Pathfinder Eberron
Game (Mr. ETT): World of Tanks
Mission: HTML/CSS

7 thoughts on “Enough Time To… Read Books (Experiment Results)

  1. Wow that’s so cool how you have lots of different graphs for this! I have to say that a couple of years ago Jasmin did actually buy me a E-reader to read books with..but sadly I haven’t used it much since I initially got it. My grandfather in law likes to give me his books that he reads so I’m still reading a lot of ‘normal’ books. I’m sure I will get into audiobooks soon though, I can see how I might enjoy that.

    Tristan

  2. As I commented in a previous post, I track all of my books read in an Excel spreadsheet. Inspired when we met (or trying to impress me), Poopsie started doing the same in a note on his phone.

    He includes Audiobooks in his list, I do not. I only list actual read books. I sort of feel like Audiobooks are “cheating” because as you said, you don’t get lost in the story and like you, I’m usually driving so can’t really daydream at the same time.

    This is a bit of a disagreement amongst us. If you include Audiobooks, he has read more for the year… but as it’s against the “rules” (my rules) to include them, I am actually winning 😉

    • Haha! You guys are funny. Unfortunately I have to selfishly side with Poopsie on this one because as we see above, if I remove my audiobooks, I’m left with virtually nothing 🙁 Having said that, if they are your rules, then clearly, you do win!

  3. Great update, love the graphs!

    I’d like to get into audiobooks but find that I get too distracted and end up missing chunks of the story as I’m not really listening all the time! Guess I’m more of a visual person.

    Looking at the last 20 books I have read, 6 of them were on the Kindle, the rest all proper books, most of them from the library.

    As a child, I could only enjoy reading when my surroundings were quiet. Nowadays, probably due to skills honed from working in a noisy open office, I can happily immerse myself if say someone is watching tv as I can block out the noise. I’ve also found that I don’t mind reading in fragments, although an hour spent reading a good book is an excellent way to pass the time!

    It’s funny, when I think about reading, I never think about reading blogs, internet/news etc!

  4. Nice graphs! Maybe I should try some audiobook. Problem is that I won’t just sit around while I listen. Like I do when I watch YT videos. I’d read a blog post while listening, which doesn’t make for a perfect and focused listening experience.

    • You are right, Mr. RIP, I mostly do other stuff while listening (but it isn’t stuff I have to concentrate on – more like when I am washing up, or ironing, or driving). I definitely wouldn’t be able to read a blog post while listening!

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