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Reading has always been my big refuge in times of trouble.

The past few weeks, I haven’t really been myself– burnt out and exhausted from writing, life, travels. So naturally, books have come to the rescue.

Read a bookI started with Washington Sqaure by Henry James, and since I always read more than one book at the same time (for various times– during commutes, by the bedside, in the kitchen and so on) I also picked up two others: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, and The Little Red Chairs by Edna O’Brien.

I thought of the James as a short but tough read, expected the Doerr to be smooth going, and thought of the O’Brien as an easy pick, a diversion. The James met expectations, Doerr began well, but soon got me war nightmares, the O’Brien is a good, but not a light read.

I realized that exhaustion means my focus is shot to pieces, and I could only read one difficult book at a time. So I’m done with the James now, but have devoured in the meantime a few YA books (quick, easy reads): The Starcrossed Trilogy by Josephine Angelini, the first book of the Mirror Chronicles by Ian Johnstone. I’m now also reading a fair amount of Terry Brooks’s Shannara series.

That’s about 10 books in as many days, which is unusual for me.

The tougher my reads, the longer I take over them– I usually average 1 to 2 books a week, so about 8 a month, if I’m lucky. I’ll go back to that pace starting next week, once I’m done with all the YA and fantasy I’ve been reading lately.

So those are my numbers, and my reading in the past two weeks.

What books have you read recently? How many books do you read over a week, a month, a year?

I co-host the monthly We Are the World Blogfest: I’d like to invite you to join, if you haven’t as yet, to post the last Friday of each month a snippet of positive news that shows our essential, beautiful humanity.

Since a few of the cohosts are going through doldrums, myself among them, we’re looking for more co-hosts– bloggers willing to co-host a We Are the World event about twice a year, visit a few blogs, make new friends. It doesn’t take much– so if want to make a positive difference, please let me know via email:  write at damyantiwrites dot com

Writer's Retreat

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Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • thewisegreek says:

    It depends on the time of year and what I’m busy with.

  • librariahn says:

    I’m trying to read one young adult book a week in 2017. Most of the time I manage it. 🙂

  • Damyanti Biswas says:

    The Shannara series isn’t all that great, but it does serve to keep me distracted when I’m not feeling my best :). It isn’t really as many books as I would have liked, but I guess this will have to do.

  • I’d love it if you’d check out my blog.

  • msw blog says:

    I am usually two books at a time one for the commute and one for bed time…

  • ksb59 says:

    I love reading books, which suits best to my temper. Watching movie comes second to me. I adored “Kori Diye Kinlaam” and “Begam Maree Biswas” by noted Novelist Bimal Mitro. All time classics; similarly the trilogy of Ashapurna Devi “Bakulkatha” is another all time great. I have read “Hunger games” trilogy, a bit over-awed with it, but won’t keep it in my Classic’s list. “little Lrod Flauntleroy” is another very cute one

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Quite a wide variety of selections there. Thanks for stopping by, and your detailed response.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      That’s a huge list– happy to meet another avid reader. I’ve read a little of Ashapurna Devi, not as much as I would have liked to.

  • Miss Andi says:

    That’s a lot of books, well done! I have just checked where I am with reading this year and not very good! But there’s still time to pick up and I really was considering the Shannara series so now you’ve pushed me over the edge. (In other words I can blame you if I won’t end up liking it! 😀 )

  • Sonya Rhen says:

    Love Alexander McCall Smith books. I personally take a really long time to read a book, can be months for one book. Like you I also have a book in different places I read; bedside, car, living room, etc. I can get through the books quicker if I do audio books, so I can “read” them while I wash dishes and do laundry. 🙂

  • The sausage dog book looks interesting. I might have to check it out. I just recently read a book about amnesia but wasn’t too impressed hence why I forgot the title, lol.
    Joy @ The Joyous Living

  • anupriya says:

    8 books a month? wow! I am dying to get to that point when I’ll have that much concentration and determination to read that much. With two little kids running around me all the time, all that I manage is 1 a month. Huummfff ! You gave me real reading goals dear

  • mdellert says:

    As an editor, usually 5-10 per month, depending on the level of work required on each. Personally, I try to be more leisurely and enjoy the experience, and read 1-2 books per month. When I was in grad school, I was sometimes reading 3-5 books *per week*.

  • Lynda Dietz says:

    Easy reads (fluff, YA etc) can be read in a few hours if I have the free time. Deeper stuff takes longer, and I have been trying to read one fiction and one non-fiction at all times (non-fiction lately has been reference books to improve my editing skills). I’ll add a second fiction book if I’m not currently editing a book, but can’t divide my time (or my eyesight) more than that. I’m also trying to read more classics, and those tend to take longer. I’ll be curious to note what that all averages out to over the months.

  • I spend time writing and editing (and being grandma/nanny to my grandchildren), but still find time to read compulsively. Almost finished with May We Be Forgiven, which I have loved; Before that, Eileen, which, weirdly, energized my writing; also The Voice Is All: The Lonely Victory of Jack Keroac; Nutshell; 100 Years of the Best American Short Stories; Upstream; Dead Stars, an Entertainment; There Your Heart Lies. Some of these were huge, and I didn’t finish all, but this is about a month’s book reading.

  • Marzi says:

    I try to read 3-4 books a month. I read more books in vacation a 3-4 per week.

  • fenster says:

    I’m averaging 5 a month this year, which is high. I’m usually around three, but I’ve had a massive desire to read and read. I just finished the first three novels by Denis Johnson, which I adored (it took him dying to remind me I had ignored his early work). Also a book called War & Turpentine and I recommend that one as well.

  • Adan Ramie says:

    I’m not sure what my books-per-week average is, but I’ve read 59 books so far this year. I go from slogging through a book a month sometimes to speed-reading a couple of books in as many days, and I guess it all depends on what’s going on in my life at the time. Right now I’m on a quest to demolish my already-bought TBR piles. So far, so good.

  • macjam47 says:

    I try to average one book a week, but this crazy year has me way behind my goal.

  • Jemima Pett says:

    Funny – I’m reading All the Light We Cannot See, and hit a plateau after a really good start, possibly about the time you did. Then it got going again. I still don’t like the way the story is constructed, but the writing is beautiful – and the tension generated excruciating at times!
    I’m averging one a week, but very grateful for quickies like Shirley Link and the Black Cat to keep my sanity!

  • Almost Iowa says:

    On late summer night, I read on the porch, during the dark of winter, by the fire. In between I rarely read, there is so much to do.

  • karladia says:

    According to Goodreads I have read 12 books in 2017 so far. I usually average about 17 books a year. It’s not where I want to be, but I have so many hobbies (Reading, video games, TV/Youtube, writing) that getting in two chapters a day is pretty good. My brain likes to jump from one activity to the next.
    Due to timing, I finished the final pages of two books in the last two days: “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman, and “Siege and Storm” by Leigh Bardugo. I started “Queens of Geek” by Jen Wilde. After the bleak Gaiman, I need a light and fluffy love story.

  • G.B. Miller says:

    It all depends on where I am with my writing. If my writing is going well, then I read about two books a month (always non-fiction as I really don’t have the time/patience to read most fiction these days). If it isn’t, then I read about 6+ per month (I say plus because that is the minimum amount that I consume).

  • J.R.Bee says:

    Take all the time you need, trying to get back into things too quickly can set you back. Having said that, in times of trouble I tend to read Harry Potter, it’s something I know I’ll enjoy, and it helps to ground me.

  • Vijayalakshmi Harish says:

    I think I average around 10 a month. Sometimes more, and rarely less.

  • hilarymb says:

    Hi Damyanti – the books I’d like to read and have here waiting to read deserve a lot of my time and to a point concentration … they’re not quick, short books … not classics as such, but books with lots of historical (probably) detail in them. So I’m a hopeless reader of books … I read to look at things for the blog and check information out … and I have exhibition information I look over … so books per se – few or zero; other reading matter quite a lot … cheers and I do hope you feel easier soon – I empathise with you … all the best – Hilary

  • BellyBytes says:

    I am amazed at how all you busy people manage to read books at all! I am ashamed to say that if I read one sheet of a newspaper at a time I consider that a major achievement. The book I enjoyed reading recently was “Becoming Brilliant” which was written by two American educationists and discusses the merit of learning the 6 C’s over the 3R’s .

  • I’m afraid my reading habits have been put on hold. With work and writing I’m struggling to keep up with reading and am looking forward to getting back into that routine again. I read a lot online but that’s not the same as a good book is it? 🙂

  • Sha'Tara says:

    Book reading can go from 1-2 a day to 1-2 a month! It all depends on other activities, and the way I feel. I’m a movie watcher as well, so when I get in movie watching mode, books wait. Being almost 100% digital reader, I read from my phone a lot. Mostly sci-fi. Currently reading “Among Others” by Jo Walton and “Golden Son” by Pierce Brown. I have hundreds of weird titles and never-heard of authors to sample yet. As for the “We are the World” I’m afraid I’m not the type to provide much positive input there. I see a very dark future for mankind and his world, and the current younger generations I encounter don’t give me any reason to feel uplifted. This is a doomed civilization in which general uncaring attitudes, decadence and corruption grow apace and only the self-blinded won’t see it. Don’t get me wrong, I see “good” people all over but they remain a small, often hidden and very quiet, minority. Take care o’ you!

  • pjlazos says:

    About two or three, but I wish I had time for more, Damyanti. I would read more if I didn’t then do a book review, but if I liked the book, I feel I owe it to the offer to review it. BTW, “All the Light You Cannot See” was a great book!

  • There was a time when i have 20-25 books per month(including novels)…whole night reading was a daily routine but now i really miss the habit of reading.
    Hope i will start soon.

  • simonfalk28 says:

    Not enough, Damyanti! That’s how many books I read. 🙂 My reading is divided by types: professional reading, bedtime reading and poetry (of course!). Sadly, I’m lucky to finish any of them during a month. As we are so time poor, and, often weary at bedtime, I’ve turned to more short stories or flash fiction of late. The Simon Tay one you put me on to is helpful there. I love Anthony Doerr’s style in “All The Light We Cannot See”. Like you, I find aspects of war really hard going, but there more some beautiful passages in that book. Am waiting for the arrival of a book by someone we know…

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      None of us read enough, do we. Love that you’re enjoying the Simon Tay! I’m getting back to the Doerr now. I just have to get through it– it is SO gorgeous, but also painful.

      • simonfalk28 says:

        Yes, yes, yes. Doerr’s writing style is beautiful. I’ve been at a conference this week and hope to read more Tay tonight. ?

  • Forgot to add — before my online course began, I finished a memoir of sorts called Giving Up the Ghost, by Eric Nuzum, which I found moving and haunting — I like the author was also an 80’s teen, etc. Anyway, I plan to reread it to inspire some writing that I have been meaning to do forever.

  • I have an online class currently, so my reading time is limited and like you, my focus is hard to keep. Anyway, I take along with me between errands and keep on my nightstand before sleep a poetry anthology/poetry-writing prompt book called Sleeping on the Wing, by Kenneth Koch and Kate Farrell, which I bought at a thrift store when travelling in norther California last winter.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      That sounds like a very useful book! Tried visiting you but the link doesn’t lead to a blog.

  • Aui V. says:

    I read 1 to 6 books a month. I just finished Rediscovering Catholicism, Counter Culture, Smart Women Finish Rich,Diary of Anne Frank and currently reading Sunset at St Ropez!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      That’s a load of books!

      • Aui V. says:

        Yah, I do not have full time since last month enabling me to read that much but I don’t think I can still do that today since I’m back to my teaching work!

  • Denise says:

    I just finished a beautiful and touching trilogy of books that are a must-read: Neither Wolf Nor Dog (now a movie), The Wolf at Twilight, and The Girl Who Sang to the Buffalo, all written gorgeously by Kent Nerburn. It was the second time I read them and will likely read them again. Story of a white man invited to tell a Lakota leader’s life story.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Sounds fascinating. So many books, such little time. I wish I could have access to a time machine, so I could stretch an hour into ten, and then read an entire book at one go.

  • ailsaclare says:

    I’m very similar – I always turn to books when I need a refuge. I used to be an incredibly fast reader, but these days I’m lucky if I manage 3 books a month! (I’m also reading a lot of research for my own writing, and I find managing multiple books at a time exhausting – I’d love to know why it works for you!)

    I hope you come out of the doldrums soon!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I think we all slow down on our reading as we age– there’s just too much else to do in life. I find I have to fight to keep my reading hours sacred, or I’d read nothing at all!

  • arlene says:

    Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannott See was one of the best books I read last year. I have a goal of reading 150 books for 2017. A . Goodreads challenge.

  • Same here. I read from kindle and our local library .

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      My local library is fantastic. I think it is the one place where bad things can’t happen.

  • I read about one book every week. So 4 a month ?

  • The number of books I read in a month varies from none to about six, although I don’t count everything I read. I try to write about books at least once a month on Sue’s Trifles.
    I hope you soon feel like getting back to your writing, Damyanti. 🙂 Sue

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I’m back to research, Sue, so should be back to writing soon, as well. I try and average 6-8 in a month, but now a lot of my reading will be research-related.

  • cathum says:

    I always wonder how people can be disciplined about reading. I don’t think I have a clear pattern, at the moment, I’m reading Tess of the D’Ubervilles for work, so also looking at lots of research and theories, and finding it very rewarding.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I think we need to read as and when we can, and find pleasure in doing so. I’m doing the numbers game this year to force me to read more.

  • Ndrw says:

    I read several times a day, every day but I still seem to read a lot slower than the rest of the internet. Over the last few weeks since the birth of my daughter, my reading has got even slower since my biggest reading time (before bed) is now punctuated with trying to put a screaming baby to sleep (though interestingly I’ve found I have EXTRA writing time).

    Since you asked, I’ve recently read Jekyll and Hyde, The Seven by Peter Newman, Goldfinger and Ben Hur. Quite a few famous titles there now that I list them. Maybe it’s time for something more obscure…

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Those are all classics! Well done for getting them read. Congratulations on the birth of your daughter– I’m sure your bedtime reading is all set to transform.

  • When time are good, one a month. In the summer, with projects and chores and visiting, there is little time for reading. Right now I’m just re-reading paragraphs on the craft of writing. How about a fiction recommendation?

  • Paul says:

    I average at least four books a month. If a get hold of a 800 pager then ONE book a month! 🙂 But the longer works I tend to read as I’m reading the shorter works. As a matter of fact I’m playing around with audible books right now. I listen to Proust’s Swann’s Way one hour a day–or at least I try to get one hour in. I figure if I go at that pace, I can get all six volumes done in a year and a half—or maybe two! 🙂

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Audible books aren’t within my reach yet, but I do listen to short story podcasts and they’re awesome. I do average less books a month when the books are long/ difficult– but these days, I’ve been snacking.

  • Tikeetha T says:

    I’m about one to two books a month. I don’t have the time. I read a lot of newspaper articles, journal articles and books I’m between 1 and 2 a month.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I do read a lot of articles as well, but try and read as many books as I can.

  • WoW! That’s incredible reading and am amazed. I am back with my HP series for the third consecutive time…started with Philosopher’s Stone and Karan Johar’s An Unsuitable Boy. I just finished Anuja Chauhan’s The House That BJ Built. It’s the perfect gateway and not fully recovered from her world.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Haven’t heard of the Anuja Chauhan book, let me go look it up. I’ve been doing easy reads, and been in bed, so 10 books in 10 days was possible 🙂

  • I’m a slow reader, so three a month is good for me.

  • My reading varies. This month I read four books but there are months when it goes 10+. It really depends on the time at hand and the size of the books. If all my reads are less than 300pages, I seem to finish them faster

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Mine too. Sometimes, even a small book takes longer because it is that sort of book. I didn’t pay attention to numbers because I thought the quality of reading mattered, but this year, I’m stressed and unfocused, so I’m reading easy books, and pushing the numbers up!

  • I would love to read 8 books a month and can do that while vacationing. The average, I hate to admit, is about 1 per month, reading at bedtime after a busy day. That makes me sad. I have to pick up the pace!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      My average is very low, as well, unless I push myself. I try and keep two clear hours of reading every day. But some books require slow reading so some months I end up making very few numbers!

  • bamauthor says:

    I read about ten to fifteen books a month, depending on whether I am in the final stages of releasing a new book in my own Little Miss HISTORY series. Most of the books are less than 200 pages because they are family friendly and mostly children’s books.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Kid’s books are tough to write, and I haven’t read all that many recently. I read all the books I gift out to kids I know.