Reading a Book a Day for a Whole Week is NOT Fun

Tolstoy and the Purple Chair by Nina Sankovitch

I’ve done it! I’ve read a book a day for a whole week, starting a new book every day (and ending it in the evening).

Yes, that’s madness – but hey, we all like a challenge every now and then, right?

Background

I read the book Tolstoy and the Purple Chair by Nina Sankovitch last year. I didn’t like the book as much as I had hoped, but I guess reading about someone reading couldn’t really be that exciting anyway. She also discusses her life and issues in this book, but that’s not why I wanted to read it. So I was disappointed.

Now, I didn’t want to read a book each day for a year, but I did want to get a feel for what it’s like to read a book a day. So, I decided to limit the timeframe to a week.

Issues

I don’t work at the moment and my family are at work and school most of the day (my teenage sons come home between 2.30 and 4pm), so there should be lots of free time to read! However, just this week I started going to the gym and I needed to buy clothing for it (which wasn’t easy in my small town, I tell you!) and also, I had some introduction sessions at the gym that took longer than I had envisaged.

Then there was Armchair BEA that I took part in: that meant writing a blog post per day and I’d signed up to be a commenter, which meant I would comment on participants’ blogs to keep the communication between bloggers going. That was fine, but that was on top of commenting on blogs that I subscribe to and returning the visit from bloggers that visited my blog. So, that took a lot of my time. As did normal life as I know it.🙂

What I thought of it

Reading a book a day is not fun. It may seem great to indulge but it’s… annoying. Most of the time, I have other things I want or have to do but I had to constantly keep in mind that the book needed to be finished in time. So, throughout the day, I was calculating how much I should read before noon, before 4pm, etc. so that I could finish the book.

Also, I didn’t feel entitled to read that much. This was one of my main problems with Sankovitch book, too. My husband was quite happy about me doing this – although when he saw I was struggling half-way the week, he suggested I give up. But what gives me the right, the justification, to just sit and read? I didn’t get it when reading Sankovitch’ book and I didn’t get it when I tried it myself.

As I forget most books soon after reading them, I started every day writing a review of the previous day’s book. Then I read for a short while and started my normal day for that week: write a ArmchairBEA blogpost, comment on people’s blogs, do the housework, sit down for coffee with the book, do grocery shopping, eat lunch (with book), go to the gym, read more, make tea & cookies for the kids and listen to their stories, read more, make dinner, read during dinner, read after dinner, going for a walk with hubby, reading more, and finally: bedtime (only) when the book was finished. I found it stressful!

Of course, some days I did other things, like visiting friends, or shopping for fitness clothes, which took a lot of my time and made my day even more stressful! I’m happy to say that I finished each book before or only slightly after my normal bed time so I wasn’t up until 2am to finish a book, as I had expected to happen.

Conclusion

So, if you were curious (like I was), what it’s like to read a book a day: stressful and not fun. Yes, some days I had a really good book and I was happy to spend a lot of time reading it, but I wasn’t happy about having to finish it the same day and folding my whole life around it. I want to be able to read a book when I feel like it, not when I have to.

The details

Day 1: The Cottage at Glasss Beach  by Heather Barbieri. 320 pages (English).

This was a Sunday and I had planned to work in the garden. However, it rained all day and I ended up spending a lot of time reading. I finished this book by 6pm.

Day 2: The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt. 336 pages (Dutch translation)

Monday. This took me a little longer, because of all the “issues” (see above) – I read this book until slightly past bedtime (11.20pm, bedtime is at 11pm).

Day 3: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. 313 pages (English)

Tuesday: Not wanting to be caught out again, I decided this Young Adult book would probably be an easier read and I should be able to finish it earlier. Not so, it was only a little before 11pm before I closed this book.

Day 4: Een gat in de lucht by Erik Nieuwenhuis (Jumping in the Air). 208 pages (Dutch)

Wednesday: Now, a Dutch book of just over 200 pages, that should be easy enough. Wrong, again, it took me until 11pm before I was finished. I realised that I dosaged my reading so I could finish on time, but not necessarily earlier than needed. Also, this book was quite literary and not an easy read.

Day 5: The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell. 298 pages (English)

Thursday: I learned my lesson and made sure I didn’t leave it too long. I finished by 8pm. Not bad. It was a fun book to read so I was quite keen to get back to it any time I could.

Day 6: Virals by Kathy Reichs. 348 pages (Dutch translation)

Friday: A YA book that I needed to read anyway for my Reading around the USA in 90 days challenge. This was my South Carolina book. I didn’t think it was very good, but it was an easy read and I finished by dinner time.

Day 7: The Turnaround by George Pelecanos. 310 pages (Dutch translation)

Saturday: Another book for my Reading around the USA in 90 days (Washington DC this time). This was in the thriller section of the library so I expected to read this fast, at least, if it was indeed a real thriller. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. It was a little boring at times (because of my thrilling expectations). Also, I was busy with other things and by 8pm I was only half-way. I was about to give up on the book (and abandon the a-book-a-day challenge), then I remembered I needed it for the USA in 90 days challenge. The story did pick up and I finished at 11.30pm.

Have you ever read a book in a day?

Did you enjoy it?

About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at bookhelpline.com. In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

54 Responses to Reading a Book a Day for a Whole Week is NOT Fun

  1. This sounds exactly as I expected reading a book a day would be: more like a chore than a pleasure. I am certainly not going to try it, but it was interesting to read about your experiences.

  2. I’ve read a book in a day before, but because I wanted to. I’m terrible at being forced to read books (e.g. for English Lit at school) – I like to read what I want when I feel like it!

  3. Kim says:

    when reading becomes annoying, I quit. I probably would not be able to pull this off – reading a book a day. well done, I must say! your conclusion says it all, though. I think I would agree – when I am reading a very good book, I like to give the process time. ‘must’ is not done when reading, is it?

    • Leeswammes says:

      Absolutely right, Kim. Reading is a fun hobby, but should not be a “must”. Although, pay me (enough) and I’ll probably read happily all day – but then there’s a purpose to it.

  4. Nadine Nys says:

    Two years ago in summer I decided I wanted to re-read the Harry Potter books and because the weather was bad, I read the first four books each in a day. That was fun, but I realise it was fun only because I wanted to do this, not because I had to.
    It was nice to read about your experience, Judith, though I never would try it my self. Reading should be fun, at all times.

  5. I’ve read a book in a day, but because it was the type of book that just couldn’t be put down for long. But in my case, I like to have everything else done before I read so chores aren’t niggling at the back of my mind while I’m going through the book.

  6. Katrien says:

    Normally I don’t enjoy reading a book under timepressure and if I plan to read a lot then it happens that I’m postponing it for stupid reasons. I like to read when I want, so I’m not a challenge type. However, I have already planned which books I want to read during the summer, because otherwise I will be to busy with other stuff and read not enough books of my high TBR-pile!

    • Leeswammes says:

      Well, the time pressure *was* the problem, Katrien. It’s more fun if you can read when you like – a lot if there’s time and the book is exciting, a bit less if there are other things to do.

      Hope you’ll get your summer reading done!

  7. carolee888 says:

    I didn’t care for that book either. In fact, I received a lot of dislikes for my review! But I was being honest. I don’t think it is good to feel like reading is a chore and books are a part of our lives not 100%. The books that I like to read in a day are graphic novels. That’s it.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Carole, if you’re not author-bashing and just tell how you feel about a book, then there’s no reason for people to give you dislikes, but unfortunately, it happens.

  8. BermudaOnion says:

    I have a feeling it was the deadline aspect that made your experiment less than enjoyable. I generally read a book a day when I’m at the beach and I love it!

    • Leeswammes says:

      Kathy, I think you’re right – the deadline really bothered me. At the beach, I just read and if I happen to finish a book that’s great. But, if I don’t, that’s fine too.

  9. Shonda says:

    I read a book a day during one of my summer vacations. I loved it at first, but by day 4 I started to get tired. It helped that I read various genres and shorter books. After that week, I couldn’t pick up a book for at least 2 days! It was a personal goal of mine and I thought it would be perfect for my vacation. In the end, I’m glad that I did it.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Shonda, it’s nice to try to read a book a day if you’re wondering what it’s like. I thought I wouldn’t read much today (the day after) but at 5pm I picked up a book and read 50 pages or so. I’m not even planning to finish it tomorrow, let alone tonight.

  10. Jae says:

    I’ve heard of that book by Sankovitch and thought how lucky she was to read a book a day, figuring she must get so much reading done! But now I realize it’s pretty difficult and not very feasible. I’ve read a book in a day but only because I wanted to and it was a page turner or quite short. I’m going to try to read 30 novellas in 30 days but I’m not limiting myself to reading 1 per day, plus they’re going to be quite short. Although after reading your post, that might be a bit ambitious. Still, I’m curious to try it and see how it goes! It’s cool that you not only read the book, but then experimented on your own!

    • Leeswammes says:

      Jae, I hope you”ll manage your 30 novellas. Sounds like a big project. It depends how short they are – I did try to fit in longer books on what seemed less busy days (although sometimes I was more busy than I had anticipated). But if you’re not reading one a day it should be possible.

      After Sankovitch book I was really puzzled why someone would read a book a day, and that for a whole year. I thought a week would make me see what’s fun about it (or not). It did.🙂

  11. Rikki says:

    You know, when I read Caroline’s review of that book I got really angry at that writer/reader. I understand she did that to get over some grief or other, but I always felt like she was neglecting and forgetting about everybody else in the process. And I have not even read the book!
    So what you described is exactly how I imagines such an activity (can I call it chore?) would be like. Totally not a pleasant experience. How she did it to actually get BETTER I have no idea!

    • Leeswammes says:

      Rikki, you sound angry again!🙂

      It’s not really true that Sankovitch was neglecting everybody’s needs, I think she worked around her family most of the time. She did a lot of the reading in the evening.

  12. Ha, yes, this sounds like exactly why I so rarely finish a book in a day. I used to all the time, before “real life” (i.e. when I was a uni student or younger still) but these days it’s a very rare holiday or weekend when I actually manage this. And if I do it usually involves a certain amount of ignoring other stuff that needs doing. Which means I only manage it when I’m genuinely engrossed in the book, making it fun. But excluding all else when the book isn’t completely great – I can see how that would make it a chore.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Kate, it’s fun when the book is *really* exciting and when you’ve got nothing else to do. But I feel being at home, I should be a housewife and mother, not sit down and read all day.

  13. Well, I read 365 books last year (some short stories, but over all an average of 200 pages a day), and I didn’t feel it was a chore. But it was for fun. Only about a quarter of those were review books. The others were just books I wanted to read. And I didn’t set out to read a book a day. That’s just how it turned out and when I got to December and saw how close I was to 365, I did ramp it up a little to hit that goal. But I also do a lot of reading late at night after the kids go to sleep and in the morning before they wake up. When they’re up, my time is about them. I understand what you mean about being “entitled” to read. It seems like there is always something else that needs to be done. I don’t watch TV, though, so I use that time that many people use for TV time. Even when my kids are watching something, while I’m in the same room, I’m almost always reading. (The only time I’m reading when they’re up, except when I take them to the park.)

    • Leeswammes says:

      That’s quite a feat, Amanda!

      I think (as someone else mentioned) that the dead line got to me. I can read about 1 book every 2 days so I knew with a bit of effort I could make it one a day. But it was just annoying that I *had* to.

  14. It also depends on the ages of your kids and what else you have going on. A few years ago before my 3yo was born, my older son was 5 or 6, and it was summer, so we had no school. I read all six of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander books (600-700 pages each) in two weeks. That’s not two weeks each. That’s two weeks total. But by the time the seventh book came out, I had an infant. It took me about a month to read just that one book.

  15. Leslie says:

    The only way I could read a book a day would be to treat it like a job and devote a “work day” to reading. Unless I was being paid a salary, I know I would never keep to that schedule.

    Something I’ve noticed since I’ve been unemployed… I am busier than when I was working! I find more things to do now than ever and my day is consumed before I realize it. I thought I would have lots of time to read, but I’ve only added one additional book per week. Go figure!

    • Leeswammes says:

      Leslie, I feel the same. I would have to see it as a job, that would make it easier. But… how could it be a job?🙂

      I find that I read as much now (well, until recently, I’ve upped my reading lately) as when I was working (3.5 days per week). The commute meant I had lots of reading time. Even now I don’t normally read a lot during the day. Maybe with a cup of coffee/tea at coffee/tea time and at lunch. But otherwise, only when there’s a deadline (e.g., challenge, review book).

  16. bibliosue says:

    Sometimes I’ve read books in less than a day, but it has never been planned. If they are short books and the story pulls me in right away it is not a problem to finish it quickly without giving it a second thought.
    “Forcing” myself to read a book in one day would be much harder, as much as I’d like to try it. I admire you for trying this little experiment on our behalf and congratulations for completing it even though it wasn’t much fun.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Suzanne, thanks. I did see it as an experiment also for other people to learn from. Don’t try this at home!!!

      I think why it wasn’t so much fun is also to do with my character and while I find reading important and essential, I don’t find *a lot* of reading essential, that’s just indulging.

  17. brolee says:

    This reminds me so much of college and having to read 200-300 pages every night to keep up with the coursework. I hated it then and I’m sure I’d still hate it now. The only place I can read this much and not find it tedious is on vacation at the beach. And the books have to be fun, summer reads with little substance – or Harry Potter. Congrats on completing your goal!

    • Leeswammes says:

      Brolee, indeed, on vacation it can be fun, but even then you wouldn’t mind putting the book away at bed time if it wasn’t finished. I love read-athons – just not reading with a deadline!

  18. Reading should be fun and if it feels like a job, it defeats the purpose! The only way I’ve read a book in a day was either because I was loving it so much or I was doing the Readathon.

    I can’t believe you did this during Armchair BEA! I saw your name on so many blogs. You are such a trooper! Thanks for being an awesome commenter.🙂

    • Leeswammes says:

      Chris, it would have been easier if it hand’t been the BEA week, but even so…

      The commenting was more work than I anticipated – I thought every assigned blog once during the week, but it was all of them every day!🙂

  19. jos says:

    I;’ve read your blog in great admiration…a book a day pfff…

  20. Only a book a day?😉 I find it’s a good incentive to work out–I get on my elliptical and go until I’ve finished my book! It makes for a well-read lass with a great butt. Heh!

    • Leeswammes says:

      Stephanie, I’ve used a cross-trainer at home and read while using it, but now I go to the gym- I’m thinking of audio books but I’m starting off with music.

  21. shelleyrae @ Book'd Out says:

    I’m not surprised you didn’t really enjoy the experience – reading to deadline is often uncomfortable. I finish most books in a day but I forgo housework mostly LOL. Congrats on the achievement though Judith and thanks for sharing your feelings about it!

    • Leeswammes says:

      Shelleyrae, I think one can feel entitled to read instead of doing the housework if a book is so good that you just have to keep reading. In the case of the books I read, some were excellent, but none were that captivating.

      My house looks like it could use a good clean. Hmm, who will I find to do that?🙂

  22. Well, after not being able to access your blog all day yesterday, things seem to be back to normal today.
    Yes, I have in the past read books from start to finish in one day, but never because I set out to do so. It usually happens when I find myself a really engrossing book on a day I have little else I really need to do. I can’t see myself ever forcing myself into reading a book a day, and definitely not for a whole week. Fair play to you for starting and finishing this little project.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Thanks, Marleen. Yes, I can read a book a day when there’s nothing much else to do (like my first day, the rainy Sunday). But if there is a deadline it gets unpleasant.

  23. Laura says:

    That does sound horribly stressful! I know that, when I do read a book in a day (which is pretty rarely, and at the moment I’m reading books that I’ve been working on for like 3 WEEKS…) I feel pretty tired out and then I basically don’t want to read anything for a few days. So, yeah. Good for you for trying it out though, and now the rest of us don’t have to!

  24. Maryom says:

    I have read books that I’ve finished in a day before now – either quite short one or YA or just something really compelling – but there’s a lot of difference between that and trying to keep it up all week. For one day housekeeping, shopping, gardening can all be put on hold – I hate to think what would happen if I ignored them all for a week. Still, I like a challenge and you’ve made me think I might try this sometime, possibly on a wet holiday.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Maryo, my housework didn’t suffer too much – I guess that was one of the problems, I tried to do everything else, too. I can read quite fast so I don’t actually need a whole day to finish a book.

  25. Pingback: Bookish news and publishing tidbits 12 June 2012 | Read in a Single Sitting - Book reviews and new books

  26. Alex in Leeds says:

    I’m not sure I’d find the quick reading hard but I’d find the lack of a gap between books an issue, I can read two books in a day when I am in the mood but I always write my review later, take some thinking time etc. Having 8 hrs to read something would be fine but 4 hrs to digest it fully before getting up tomorrow and doing it all again? Not for me!

    • Leeswammes says:

      Alex, I can finish one book and start the next one a minute later. I chain-read.🙂

      I do forego thinking about books sometimes, which is a pity because that means I don’t get all out of the book that I could. My reviews (already written not yet published) of last week aren’t the most insightful ones, but I don’t normally analyse a book too deeply anyway.

  27. Wow… one book a day. I mean, I have read books in a day because they were nice and I wanted to finish them, but at the moment it takes me a couple of days to read a book, which is fine. It’s a hobby after all🙂 a challenge is nice every now and then, just to see what it feels like. I just don’t have the time to read that much?

    • Leeswammes says:

      Roxanne, it’s a hobby, indeed and I think in that week, my hobby became an obligation, but without any particular reason to justify me doing it. That didn’t work!

  28. alice says:

    Hi, I haven’t read NS’s book, but I read her blog. For her reading a book a day was a form of therapy to process her grief. I agree with you though that reading should be for pleasure and setting difficult goals would turn it into a chore. I think that I will try to read a book a week and then reflect on it. I like NS’s idea of writing a book review that is a reflection of her relationship with the book. I think I might try that. But in any case thanks for the trial and the blog.

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