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Time Reading Is Time Well Spent

Greg Zimmerman

Staff Writer

Greg Zimmerman blogs about contemporary literary fiction at The New Dork Review of Books and holds down a full-time gig as a trade magazine editor. Follow him on Twitter: @NewDorkReview.

I love reading, and therefore, I spend a disproportionate amount of my free time doing it. I am reader — it’s my “hobby,” it’s what I do. Indeed, I’ve overheard variations of the following conversation snippet between my girlfriend and her mother many, many times:

Mother: “How’s Greg? What’s he doing?”

GF: “He’s good — he’s in his book room reading books.”

Mother: “… Again? … ”

GF: “It could be worse — he could be playing video games, or smoking crack, or watching porn.”

Anyway, I started wondering just how much time I’ve actually spent reading. Let’s go to the stats!

Goodreads and my reading journal combine to tell me that since June 1st, 2001, I’ve read 370 books, comprising 157,692 pages.

According to the Internet, the average reader reads about 250-300 words a minute, which is about a page a minute. I don’t think I’m any faster or slower than average (we can compares “sizes” later) — so that means I’ve spent 157,692 minutes reading. That’s 2,628.2 hours, or 109.5 days — just under a third of a year. Of reading. Glorious reading!

What else could I have done with that time (other than video games, crack, and/or porn)?

I could’ve walked two full round trips between Jacksonville and San Diego — assuming I averaged 20 minutes a mile for all 2,092 miles…and, you know, not stopping to pee. (“I’m pretty tired. Think I’ll go home now.”)

I could’ve watched five entire baseball seasons back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back (assuming 3 hours a game, 162 games).

I could’ve renewed my driver’s license 876 times. (Assuming three freakin’ hours per time. Hey, I live in Chicago.)

But you know what? I don’t think there’s actually any better way I could’ve spend those 2,600 hours than reading books!


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