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Reading and the Time Paradox

hourglassThe problem with books is that the excellent ones—the ones that offer worlds you want to remain in—pass quickly, while the not-so-good ones drag on.

I’m currently reading a book I’m interested in, yet can easily put down to take up other tasks—which means it’s taking forever to get through. I want to finish it, I truly do; it’s amusing me and I’m enjoying the journey—and yet it’s not hijacking my every waking moment. In fact, it’s not even top priority when I do get a moment. Which means I’m inching forward only a few pages a day.

Whereas when I love a book, I snatch time to read it whenever I can. I ignore the hubbub of my kids. I let my husband cook dinner. I crawl into bed as early as reasonable, anticipating my big poofy pillow and the book in my hands. And zip—before I know it, the story I want to stay immersed in is done.

It’s unfair. A movie takes a certain number of minutes, whether good or bad. (Although, yes, you may be more keenly aware of those minutes ticking by during some movies than others; still, 90 minutes is 90 minutes.) So does a collection of music. Yet a book can take a couple of days—or a book can take weeks.

Percentage-wise, this means I likely spend more days of the year reading non-favourite books than ones I love, even if, number-wise, the non-favourite books may be fewer.

And while an okay book feels like a leisurely stroll, a great book feels like a race I can hardly remember competing in. And then I have to find the next great book, and the next great book, like an addict desperate for the next hit.

So how do you make the great books last?

Read previous posts.

About the Author

Posted by Galadriel

Hi, I’m Galadriel: blogger, author, reader and resident of a quaint small town in the breathtaking West Kootenay region of southeastern British Columbia. You can also find me on Twitter and Facebook.


  1. I’m going through exactly what you described right now. A good friend recommended a book to me, and I just haven’t been able to get into it as much as the last few books I’ve consumed.

    Granted, I “read” most of my books via audible these days. I have a bit of a commute, so that’s an extra couple hours of reading time I can squeeze in every day. With books I really enjoy, I listen to them when I’m not driving, stealing time away from other things I should be doing (like writing!). The book I’m currently on, I only listen to while on the road.

    I have a quality threshold. If it doesn’t reach that threshold, I don’t finish it. Life is too short and time is too precious to waste on bad books.

    I don’t really have any way of making a book last longer than any other. If it’s part of a series I really enjoy, I’ll reread the series just before the next book comes out. Other than that, I just look for the next book by the same author.

    • I used to love audio books back when I had a commute. I’d never get angry at traffic because the longer the drive took, the more of the book I could listen to.

      I agree about the quality threshold. I am known to put down a book if it’s simply not good enough; it’s when it’s only somewhat interesting and I try to hang on that the time drags.

      And rereading is a practice I should indulge in more often. I used to, especially rereading some favourites year after year, but it seems to have fallen by the wayside. There are just so many new books that are so enticing!

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