On Finishing Books
Published 16 Mar 2010. Tags: books, computer-science, infographic, math.
I just finished W.G. Sebald’s Austerlitz, which all things considered is a pretty good book, despite my occasional furious claims to the contrary.1 I started it sometime around October, read most of it, and then put it aside. I just finished the last hundred-odd pages a few minutes ago. This seems to be a pattern—I start a book really enthusiastically, then get a little bored or distracted and put it down for awhile. Eventually I get so tired of seeing it sitting in my queue, shamefully reminding me of my minuscule attention span, that I just plant myself down on the couch and force myself to finish it. The satisfaction of finishing the book outweighs the grueling completion process.
This isn’t usually the case, of course. Only for certain books. I’m pretty sure I’d hate reading if this was the normal situation.
Note that the concept of book-graphing has been explored before, which reminds me: I want the book equivalent of a pedometer, so I can settle this graph thing once and for all. Then I want to correlate information about the structure, genre and subject matter of the book with the pace at which I read it.
If I worked at Amazon, I would be spying on customers’ Kindle usage and mining that data so hard.
No chapters? Really? Why would you do that, Sebald? I demand discrete chunks. ↩