Participating in the Trees of Reverie read-a-thon for the first time made me think about quantified reading. Why bother trying to reach a numeric reading goal? What’s the point of trying to read a hundred books for the Goodreads Reading Challenge? Shouldn’t the quality matter over quantity?
Quality vs. Quantity
Reading serves to expand our minds, is a great source of knowledge and also entertains. Of course quality should matter — you don’t want to add falsehoods to your arsenal of knowledge and a boring book does nothing to entertain. In that respect, yes quality does matter. At the same time, I don’t think it necessarily has to be quality versus quantity per se. Why not strive for both if you can?
After all, when reading is a hobby, how do you qualify quality reading? I don’t ask myself at the end of the year, “How was the quality of my reading?” I ask myself, “How many books did I manage to read this year?” I also consider how many of those books I enjoyed and how much I’ve learnt. That to me is quantified reading — a way to measure my hobby of reading.
Truth be told, I’m not even sure how to measure the quality of reading specifically. Am I comfortable when I sit down? Do I hold the book too tight or too loose? Is my flipping of the pages just right? Am I able to absorb the words and understand the meaning exactly as they were meant to be interpreted? These questions don’t concern me as much as what I gain out of the books I’ve read. And the more I gain, the happier I am.
The Measure of Hobbies
Perhaps my competitive nature and lifelong engagement in sports has fostered the need in me to quantify my achievements. When scoring goals in hockey, shooting hoops in basketball or gaining points in tennis, the quantity edges out quality. Quality makes for a great match to watch and a quality athlete tends to win more too. However, scoring three beautiful goals against a team that scores four less than enchanting goals still results in a loss.
Similarly, when I learnt to sew I obviously wanted to be able to produce quality results. But I didn’t want to take a year to sew a bag. I wanted to become faster, more precise and generally be able to increase my output. When it comes to reading, I want to be able to read more too. Of course I want to savour the words but I don’t want to read one book a month. I want to read all the great books that I get my hands on, hence quantified reading is a very useful measure.
Weighing Quantified Reading
In some ways, I suppose quantified reading could add unnecessary stress for some people. Knowing that there’s a specific number of books to be read in a given year could cause some to turn away from bigger books because they take much longer to read. Participating in a read-a-thon and wanting to read all the planned books could cause one to read the words without absorbing much of the content at all.
On the flip side, it can also be great motivator. I’ve been in a reading the funk for a few weeks already. And yet I’m already on my fourth book half-way through the Trees of Reverie read-a-thon. Wanting to read a set number of books also keeps me focussed on wanting to read. Increasing the number of books I read over the past two years caused me to delete game apps on my phone. I used to while away time spent waiting on games. Now I read because I feel I gain much more out of reading.