Recently I thought it would be fun and interesting to ask this question of fellow-writers on our own dedicated Facebook group, having just learned from Goodreads that I’d reviewed or rated 28 books this year.
I made a fascinating discovery. Annual reading achievement varied enormously. I thought I was doing quite well at approximately 30 – and I learned via an online search that a “voracious” reader may get through 30-50 books a year but across the general population it is a very different picture: “According to a YouGov survey, the mean number of books read for pleasure by adults in the UK is around 10 each year, and the median is around 4.”
The answers I received from fellow-writers took me by surprise: and not least, because I was humbled and impressed by how the majority of these individuals managed to fit in so much reading alongside writing their own books!
“78 – less than two books a week, which doesn’t seem very much at all to me.”
“No more than 5”.
“In 2016 I read 69 – years ago I might read up to 100 a year. One month I notched up 19 books.”
“49 and some other started but not finished.”
“120 last year – as at 8 January this year I’ve already read 7.”
“55 from the library alone so probably nearer 70 or 80.”
“Going back through my Kindle orders, 54 not including ones I gave up on or old books I re-read.”
“32 according to Goodreads.”
“Between 15 and 30.”
“Probably about 12-15.”
“175 last year and above 150 for each year since 2011 when I started tracking on Goodreads.”
I love to read a book which is a totally absorbing page-turner, a book which you can’t wait to get back to. It’s one of life’s greatest joys. I’ve just finished reading The Essex Serpentby Sarah Perry and I found it a real struggle to read, it’s so slow-paced and (I think) self-consciously literary. I bought it in Waterstones, attracted by the beautiful cover and the interesting blurb. I was determined to persist with it to the end because I’d spent good money on it but felt cheated of that wonderful “must get back to it as soon as possible” feeling with a good book.
When I mentioned this on Facebook, I liked this response:
“Books like that become loo books, read a page or two at a time. A friend sent me a non-
fiction title I’d expressed interest in and I can only stomach it a few pages at a time. I’m only persisting because it was a gift and because there is some useful info amid the dross but it’ll get a scant two stars and the fact that I’m only reviewing as a warning to others taken in by the blurb.”
What do you think? Do you know how many books you read in a year? And what’s your view of “fast” and “slow” readers? Does it matter? and does it impact upon the quality of your response to the story, or your reviews, if you do review books (or discuss them at a book club). I’d love to have your comments!
Compassion, respect and kindness are human qualities common to all regardless of any faith position. In this post, I’m making a plea for these three things in the online world of books.
Recently I learned from my fellow authors of something very sad which is happening on Goodreads – which I had previously been totally unaware of. See this article by Anne Rice here.
I have been aware that the dark side of human nature does indeed find outlets for expression on the internet but I had up to now been unconscious of the fact that this affects the world of reviewing books.
In today’s publishing scene, Amazon reviews are of great importance to a writer – though I sometimes wish they weren’t. The fact remains a new review can lift an author’s spirits, and a lack of reviews can (however mistakenly) feel like rejection. But it came as a great surprise to me to learn that some people are using their membership of book review sites as an opportunity to express spite, envy and malevolence to others.
I love writing books, reading books and reviewing books.
Every book review I post online is authentic. It has never occurred to me to ever post a spurious review or a one star rating simply to hurt someone else.
My own personal rules of book reviewing are as follows:
I never post one star reviews. If a book genuinely warrants such a rating, I would be most unlikely to even read it all the way through, and I would simply choose not to post a review at all.
I generally give 4 or 5 star reviews and sometimes 3 star. Perhaps I’m over-generous with my star-ratings. Or perhaps it’s down to the fact that I have an instinct to choose books I know I’ll enjoy reading.
I write reviews because I enjoy it; never to criticise, condemn or discourage.
As authors, we write for love –
for love of expressing oneself through the written word, because we have something to say and because we feel compelled to write – regardless of worldly success
for love of creating characters, allowing our imaginations free rein with our created world writing dialogues, entering new worlds.
So I hope that book reviewers would also write for love.
“Love”, by the way, means respect for others, authenticity and honesty: and it includes constructive criticism. It also means reading a book all the way through before writing your opinion of it on a permanent online platform like Goodreads or Amazon.
If you’re an author to whom online reviews are important, I’d love to have your comments on this subject.