Discussion: Reading Habits — Quality vs. Quantity?

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If you know me at all, you’ll know that there have been weeks in the past (not so much now, with a child to take care of!) where I binged on books. I would sign up for read-a-thons or even just sit down for a week and say, “I’m going to read xx books!” (Not to be confused with ‘xxx’ books) — and then I would sit down and read, read, read until I fell over.

When it comes to things like read-a-thons, I had to think about the books I was picking. For the most part, I would pick books that struck my fancy, whether they were short and quick reads, or long and bulky reads, but for the most part, I always strived to go towards QUANTITY. I wanted to read as many books as I could in the time-span of the read-a-thon so I could feel good about myself.

Now, I’m not saying that reading shorter books to up your books-read number means that those books aren’t quality reads, but if you’re just striving for quantity, are you missing out on quality books?

Take the classics, for example. I do love reading the classics, but they can take a lot of my attention to read. Mostly, they’re not written in the same kind of everyday English that the books I tend to go for are written in. The dialect might be different, or there might be less dialogue and more description, or they might be freaking long (War and Peace, anyone?). I’ve tried in the past to read some of the long ones, but then I find that they take so long and my yearly goal number of books to be read suffers because of it. But, like I said, I then feel like I’m missing out on a quality read.

Or, we’ll take some adult fiction. I think one of the main reasons I love YA books is because they get to the point and don’t have a lot of filler going on. When it comes to an adult book, I get bored. The story is super exciting and then my attention span drifts and I can’t pay attention anymore. The book could be absolutely amazing, but I find myself wanting one of those non-stop action books — a book where things constantly happen and the filler is kept to a minimum.

In the past, the number of books that I read in a year never used to bother me, but once I found out that you could set a challenge for yourself on Goodreads, I was determined not only to meet, but exceed that challenge! In a way, I feel like my reading has suffered. Yes, I’m still reading some amazing books, but I feel like I’m missing out on ones that I would’ve read in the past that I would find amazing today. I can’t help but wonder …. is it my changing tastes in books? Or have I grown lazy as a reader?

Do you go for quality when you read books? Are you obsessed or concerned with how many books you read in a year? 

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26 thoughts on “Discussion: Reading Habits — Quality vs. Quantity?

  1. This is a tricky one – sometimes I want to stop and savor a book, and sometimes I just want a quick and light read. I enjoy classics and giant fantasy novels, but I have to space them out with some smaller books so I don’t feel like I’ve only read a few books. I guess that’s a little bit on the quantity side, but I try to keep the books on my to-read list as the ones I’m actually going to read. If I know I’m not going to like something or if I don’t have access to it, I just don’t add it to my TBR even if there’s a lot of hype. So I guess I juggle quantity and quality?

    – Kritika @ Snowflakes & Spider Silk

    • And there’s nothing wrong with juggling! I find that I try to do the same now … you’re so right about the big book thing. I find if I spend sooooo much time on one book that I need to read a few lighter — both in topic and size — books afterwards. Or sometimes I’ll even pick up a light book in the middle of a big book read.

  2. I can’t say I go for quantity – I did do a book challenge last year and found myself stressing if I wasn’t on target so that’s definitely not for me and I also struggle to read more than one book at a time, unless it’s for something I’m studying and am just picking through so that doesn’t help the quantity either. Quality, though, is not always my first thought. Sometimes it’s what can I read that doesn’t take up too many brain cells or because I’ve just read something serious/heavy/long (which often is linked to quality, though not always) and want something light, quick or easy.

    • So kind of a mix of both then, right? I find that if I have the time and, like you say, brain cells to really read and take in a big, heavier book, then I will, but sometimes it’s nice to just read for fun and have something lighter. Kind of like mixing up watching dramatic TV shows with comedy.

  3. I used to really focus on quantity, because it was something that made me a bit unique, even dating back to my childhood. I was that kid who read hundreds of books every year, isn’t she cool (little did I know how much of a nerd that made me lol). I got sucked into this mindset again as an adult, after I found the goodreads challenge, like you 🙂 Two years ago I read over 300 books and I was like Dang! I’m all that! But, then I had a huge burnout and last year I could hardly look at a book without getting cross eyed. This year I made my yearly goal smaller (101+ books), and I’m enjoying the slower pace 🙂

    • I had a huge burnout, too! Now I can go a day or so without even picking up a book and I don’t find myself shaking about it. I think it helps that now that I have my little boy, my priorities have changed. We’re so busy and there are other things that I want to do in my spare time besides reading, so I usually only have time in the morning or before bed. I’m actually reading a big book right now and I’m not even through the second chapter — I feel like it’s going to take me forever! In the same sense, though, I like the slower pace, too. Now if only my book buying would slow down with me …

  4. I say quality over quantity any time, not just the quality of books you read in terms of writing, story, etc, but also the quality of your enjoyment while reading. I fell into the trap of striving for quantity soon after I started book blogging, which was no wonder with all the readathons and challenges and seeing how many books some people read and I started comparing my self to them. It all factored in (besides some other, personal reasons) into a more than year-long reading slump, when I couldn’t enjoy reading, not even the books I otherwise would. So now that I’m coming out of that horrible place, I’m firmly on the quality side, I want to read books I enjoy and the books I take something from, and if I only read 20 books instead of 100, so what. Of course, I’ll have to keep reminding myself of that.

    • Yes! I love everything that you said. It really should be quality in terms of enjoyment. If you feel like you’re just forcing books upon yourself to say that you read a certain number of books, you might not be picking up books that you normally would. I kind of love that now that I’m not really paying attention to the latest and greatest books, I actually read what I want when I want. If I go a day or two without reading, I’m totally fine. I might then spend a little more time reading and actually enjoy it and not feel like I *have* to read. I know at this time last year I must’ve read over 100 books … now I’m at 45 and totally okay with it.

  5. I never had huge numbers in terms of books read per year, but now that I’m not blogging about the books I read, I definitely don’t feel the internal pressure to read shorter books for the sake of reading more books (because I did do that – pick a shorter book over a longer one). Now I enjoy what I’m reading and it doesn’t bother me how long it takes to finish a book. I’m also much more inclined now to finally read some of those door stopper books that have been on my TBR for a long time!

    • Yes! I set a low (for me) goal of 100 books and I’m really not feeling the pressure to go higher. I I do, I do, and if not, then that’s fine, too. I like that I’m just reading what I want to when I want to and not worrying about the numbers or the new releases or anything anymore. It’s liberating!

  6. For the most part, I just read what I want to read and don’t pay attention to how many I’m reading. But, I do want to get through them because there are SO many books I want to read… so, even if it’s not about the numbers exactly, I still find myself getting caught up in the frenzy of trying to get through as many books as quickly as I can.

    Like Jo said, though, quality doesn’t necessarily mean the quality of the book but quality of time spent reading it. If I ever start rushing through books so quickly I’m not even enjoying myself, then I’ll know it’s time to reevaluate. For now, though, I don’t worry so much about it.

    • That’s it exactly! I want to enjoy what I’m reading, regardless of what kind of book it is, rather than just rush through books to get my read book number up.

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  8. I do have a goal set to read 45 books and challenges this year but I’am a slow reading and sometimes I don’t feel like reading. I spent two months not reading anything. So I say quality. I like to take my time and enjoy the book I’m reading. If I’m enjoying it, I will finish it before I realize and move on to the next book or take a break. I haven’t read any big books yet but I will sometime this year. My library is having a summer reading challenge and I want to read 20 books, I tell myself I will do it but then I read 5 books or nothing at all.

    • That’s why I’m terrible at challenges … I’ll either read too little or not on the challenge topic, but that’s okay. I like that I read what I want, when I want and not worry about how long it’s taking me, or if I go a few days without reading.

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  10. I do try to read as many books as I can. I’m actually over my goal so far this year. But, that doesn’t mean I sacrifice the quality of what I read or my time spent reading. I have read quite a few “chunkster” books this year so far and have been thinking to myself how I could get a lot more books read if I wasn’t reading so make 500 pagers.

    But I’m reading what I want, when I want and the novellas seem to even it out 😛

    • I’m happy to be reading more of what I want, when I want. I’m reading City of Lost Souls right now and it’s taking forever and only bugging me a little bit. 🙂 Might have to read a few shorter ones before starting the last one! But I do try to get the books that I really want to read now, rather than just read shorter books for the sake of getting numbers up.

      • Out of the 40 books that I’ve read this year, 16 of them have been 400+ pages.. I don’t even know where I’ve found the time.. But then, I’ve read 10 novellas, so it kind of balances out. I’ve also read 2 adult books.. lol I know it’s not many, but it’s some!

      • I don’t know where you find the time, either! I think we’re just so busy go go going right now that I don’t have a lot of time to just sit and read. I bet if we were home during naps, I’d get a lot more reading done!

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  12. I tried to keep up with my goal from last year and just didn’t have the time! I’m reading less this year but I’m also picking many more books this year that I WANT to read instead of feeling like I “should” read them. It’s tough! I want to read all the books to keep my blog going and to keep up with others but I also want to take my time and enjoy them!!

My home is where my books are. - Ellen Thompson

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