Non-required Reading

About two weeks ago, The Chronicle posted 0ne of the more interesting best-seller lists I've seen recently: those books that sell well in college bookstores (not textbooks, but books from the "regular" shelves). Top-rated on the list is The Lovely Bones.

I realize this list is imperfect because not all students do their book shopping at the school bookstore. NYU's bookstore had a spectacular selection of "regular" books, and as a staff member, I got 20% off... and I still rarely bought anything but NYU hoodies there. But it's interesting to see that there is enough interest in non-required books to generate such a list in the first place.

When I was in undergrad, my for-pleasure reading dropped significantly. I told myself it was because I had so much required reading to get through that by the time I was finished, I wanted to do anything but stare at more pages of words. Realistically, though, I didn't often finish my required reading (I hope none of my professors read this blog). Instead, I felt like any reading time had to be committed to my required reading - which was pretty much an interminable stack - and therefore ended up watching a lot more crappy television than I thought possible while reading barely a book a month. And that was in a good semester.

I struggle a bit with the same phenomenon now, feeling as though I should get through my work reading (whether for the office or for a review) before diving into my for-pleasure reading. I like to think that I have gotten much, much better about carving out uninterrupted reading time, however. Even so, my reading pales in comparison to some other book bloggers, whose monthly round-ups of titles number in the 20+ range.

Anyone else have the same experience? I know that almost all the booklovers I talk to say they struggle with finding enough time to read all the books they'd like to read, but how do you find to read those books you pick up? How many do you manage to read in an average month? Does school/work reading get in the way?


  1. Interesting post. At my college, anyway, I think a lot of students did buy their reading-for-pleasure books at the university bookstore because they could pay with their student ID card. In college/high school I didn't have a problem with required reading, but I think I would now. Much less disciplined than I once was!

  2. I've realized that I do my best reading during commutes, and how much I read depends drastically on how much time I spend on the metro or bus. In Spain, I commute over 2 hours every day, so I read about two books a week. However when I was living in Boston (and I drove to work) I only read when I would force myself to go to a cafe- I just can't read in the house! Of course these days I don't have any work reading ;-)

  3. In general, I don't have much work reading - just a lot of emails to read and respond and presentations to prepare for meetings! But my work schedule seriously cuts into my reading time so I don't achieve many more than 4-5 books a month. I am trying to learn to be Ok with that as I watch other bloggers read that many books in a month!

  4. Trisha - The number of students purchasing pleasure books at the NYU bookstore might be off because of the wealth of other book outlets in the city (including the Strand, which is just a few blocks up from "campus")

    Morgan - I would kill for two hours a day to read while commuting! Although I bet it gets to be a bit long after a while... hope you are enjoying Spain!

    Booksnyc - I learned quickly that I had to stop comparing my own reading to that of other bloggers, or risk skimming too many books just for the sake of finishing them! I envy people that can read and absorb that quickly...

  5. Well, all my life until recently I've read between 3-8 books a week on average. Parenthood decreased my reading to about 2-3 books a week. What really hurt my reading was starting to FB and blog a year ago. Now I'm lucky to read 3-4 books a month! I've got to learn to manage my time or I won't have any books to blog about...


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