When I began this experiment of blogging for the purpose of reviewing, analyzing, and highlighting books, I assumed that it would be easy. After all, I’d been reading several book blogs and they made it look quite easy. With the exception of my personal favorite Pages Unbound, which is hosted by two writers, these (mostly) ladies were able to churn out three book reviews a week.
Although it usually takes me a week to 10 days to read a book, I committed to using this format as a means of marrying my desire to improve my writing and share my love of books. I figured with some strategic scheduling, I could manage to review a couple of books a week.
That strategy hasn’t quite worked out, due to a number of factors. Homemaking, homeschooling, and other commitments are part of it, but those aren’t even the main reasons. I can easily put together a 1,000 word blog post, plus editing, in less than an hour.
No, the difference between my approach and the approach of most of the book bloggers I enjoy so much is that the lion’s share of of my reading is nonfiction, and nonfiction takes me a lot longer to read than fiction books, which is what most of the bibliophile bloggers I enjoy tend to review. The few bloggers I read who review nonfiction tend to offer reviews as slowly as I do, with gaps between reviews.
It was this awareness of the rate at which I post reviews which prompted me to begin interspersing book reviews with discussion posts on the related topics of reading and education, two other subjects that I enjoy discussing. Maintaining a book blog based mostly on the nonfiction books I generally read is more difficult than I realized.
When I am reading fiction, I read faster, collect my thoughts faster, and can formulate an opinion and review faster. Entertainment material is easier to plow through than informational material. There’s also a difference in the speed at which certain authors can be processed and read through. Dostoyevsky requires more concentration than Austen which requires more thoughtful consideration than J.K. Rowling.
In the nonfiction realm, Chesterton takes some serious concentration, while Wendell Berry is a little easier to work through (though just as thoughtful). Books such as my latest review, Mating in Captivity, hardly require any deep introspection at all, even if there are bursts of original thought or notable commentary. It was a very quick read relative to the time I usually spend in a nonfiction book.
I am currently waiting for one of my kids to finish a music lesson and am about to crack open The 5000 Year Leap. My optimistic ambition is to have it completed by next Friday, even amidst household responsibilities, church stuff, school orientations which take place next week, and myriad other tasks which must be done. The life stuff into which all the reading is sandwiched. We’ll see how it goes.
What about you? Does nonfiction reading challenge you much more than fiction in terms of time and concentration? Which do you prefer?