Veit's Blog

Reading, The First Year


A year ago, I decided I wanted to read. I made a public reading list and wrote multiple blog posts about it evaluating my progress. Now, one year into this experiment, I’ve decided to write about it again, and see where I’m standing.

Let me get the numbers out of the way before analyzing them. Figure 1 has the very unscientific findings.

Category/Metric Pages Items Pages p.d. Items p.d.
Technical Papers 1144 72 3.13 0.20
Technical Books 1343 5 3.68 0.01
Recreational Papers 160 13 0.44 0.04
Recreational Books 2688 15 7.36 0.04
Total 5222 104 14.31 0.28
Fig. 1: An overview of the data as a nice little table.

I’ve calculated the page and item counts as well as how much reading that is per day. Then I split it up by topic: technical papers and books are those pertaining to Computer Science in a broad sense, whereas recreational reading is anything else. This year’s recreational papers were mostly psychological, which makes sense considering that I studied that for a year and still have a lingering interest in the field. This year’s list of recreational books includes a fair amount of books that I felt I had to revisit, and not very many new ones.

The bottom line is that, for me, the numbers feel kind of embarassing. I’ve started approaching reading as a competition with myself—which is unhealthy, but yields good results—, and as far as I’m concerned, I’m losing. The only number that my OCD mind finds acceptable is the number of papers I read; the number of technical papers is pretty good for someone who is not part of academia in any sense of the word and the number of recreational papers I don’t really care about quantitatively. Both technical and non-technical books I need to read more of, though, especially those meant for recreation.1

On the other hand, the nubers are kind of encouraging: I used to be an avid reader as a kid, and at one point just stopped, or at least that’s what it felt like. Quantifying how much I actually read helped me both in getting an insight into my actual reading habits and, through a perverse form of gamification, led me to read more. I’m grateful for that and hope this trend will continue.

There is a lot that’s missing from the Figure 1, as well. I read a lot of news—between five and fifteen articles on any given day—and a few graphic novels each year. I also don’t finish every book that I start; there are at least 5 more technical books that I stopped reading before finishing them this year, and they’re not on the list. And, lastly, I’ve listened to twenty audibooks this year, for a total of 245 hours and 52 minutes, which isn’t bad at all.

Bonus statistic: in 2017, I’ve written 60501 words on this blog. That’s between 127 and 155 book pages, depending on the format and trim size you prefer.


1. I realized how my mind tricks me into being anxious about recreation while writing that sentence.