A friend of mine noticed the other day that the total for my 2020 reading goal on GoodReads was 100 books in a year, and I had read 62 of them. After expressing how impressed he was with that number, he proceeded to ask how many books the "average" reader might consume in a single year, to which I answered "That's a good question, let's Google it."
While looking for the answer (which seems to generally be listed as 12 books per year) I stumbled across this article, which digs into the subgroups of American humanity, and why different groups might read more or less than others.
It starts with the usual number - 12 books per person per year on average. But immediately, the author follows up with "but that number is inflated by the most avid readers. The most frequently reported number was 4 books per year."
That was about when I discovered that I might be one of those "avid readers" spoken of, though I have never considered myself particularly avid, simply because I read slower than the average person. I'm just very determined.
And that led me to another question, and one not so easily answered by Google. How many books should I read per year, and is there a healthy balance that I might achieve between devouring books in my spare time and also talking to friends or playing video games or eating pizza?
The answer is - yes, there is a balance, but no, there is no one number that fits everyone. If you want to read more, by all means, read more. How many books you can read in a year depends very much on how much time you're willing to dedicate to the task and also to how fast you read. I am not a fast reader, but I listen to audiobooks for at least 2-4 hours a day while I do other things, and that helps me hit my 100 books in a year goal (which I may not reach this year).
So, if reading more than the average American in a year makes you feel better, aim for 10-12 books, or about a book a month. If you want bragging rights, maybe aim a little higher, for 24 books (two books a month) or 52 books (a book a week). Just keep in mind that it's not the number of books you read that makes the difference - it's how those books affect you.
I read to relax and also to learn new things. As long as there's a good balance between new educational books and older comforting books, I'm usually pretty happy.
Next time you're wondering if you're reading "enough," consider instead: Is what I'm reading impacting me in a positive way?