Veit's Blog

Reading — An Update


In one of my previous blog posts I told the tale of how I returned to reading after a long period of literary hibernation. I also hinted that I would revisit the theme when new trends emerged; since this month has seen changes to my reading habits, I thought an update might be in order. There are people who can present raw numbers in a format that is not mindnumbingly boring, but I'm not one of them, so consider yourself warned. I'll throw around a few numbers that might not interest you at all.

Give me the data

First of all, I've started reading prose and poetry books again. I've yet to finish one of these books—both of them are rather long—, but I'm progressing steadily and hope to include these books in my “done” list sometime next month.

As for things that I've actually finished, I made it through a lot of scientific papers, all of them filed under “Computer Science”. I read 15 papers again this month, totalling 368 pages of PDF or 13.14 pages a day. This presents a growth rate of approximately 73.6% in pages, which is not bad at all. Even more interesting is the growth rate in pages per day, however, since February is three days shorter than January. This means I read 6.3 pages more per day, representing a growth rate of 92.1%. Following that logic, I almost doubled my reading! I have another metric up my sleeve, though: In my previous post I also talked about pages read per working day, so let's apply that one as well. I've worked 20 days in February—all of the weekdays—, which is two days fewer than in January, where my page count was at 9.64 per working day. This month, this is up to 18.4 pages a day, marking 90.8% growth. Not quite as impressive as the raw pages per day, but still a pretty clear uptick.

Metric January February Growth Rate
Papers 15 15 0%
Total Pages 212 368 73.6%
Pages per day 6.84 13.14 92.1%
Pages per work day 9.64 18.4 90.8%
Fig. 1: An overview of the data as a nice little table.

Now what?

After giving you the raw numbers like your employer might in an annual review—meaning you consider faking a coughing fit just to get out of it—I will now try to make sense of these numbers. First, the good news: I feel like my reading quality has increased, meaning that I have a clearer opinion about what I read and feel like I can better express it. This might be due to me reading more papers that are within my comfort zone, but, reviewing what I've read, I doubt this explanation. I won't try to come up with one that feels more correct though, because I don't think I can objectively judge any of this anyway.

I also have bad news, though: I doubt I can maintain this growth. I would hope that the quantity of my reading stabilizes and try to avoid seeing this as some sort of perverse competition with my past self, as this will undoubtedly take a toll on the quality of my reading. Instead, I will focus on finding a healthy saddle point in the curve that's comfortable for me both in quality and quantity. I don't want to see my reading list as a burden but as a healthy incentive to read more and better.

My conclusion is thus the same as last time: I will notify you if anything significant happens. In the meantime, let's all just assume that this project is now tagged as a stable release—sorry for the lame pun, but I couldn't think of a better analogy. See you soon!

P.S.: I also added table styling just to make the data in this post a bit more palatable. I hope you like the layout.