Stop Comparing Your Reading Life To Others

When someone asks me how I read so many books my first response is usually something like, don’t compare your reading life to mine. In other words, stop comparing your reading life to others.

Stop Comparing Your Reading Life To Others and stacks of books by a plant

There are a lot of great things about modern technology, online life, and social media, but there are also some downsides. One of which is the image of perfection and comparison that is everywhere.

We see influencers that use filters, perfectly staged photos, beautiful bookshelves, and more. Perfection is everywhere we look.

But those things are only the picture that those people want you to see. If you zoom out a little bit you will see some of the mess.

You will see what someone looks like without a filter. You will see the mess that it took to get a perfectly staged photo.

If you zoom out a little bit more you will see a stack of random books piled high on the floor next to that perfectly crafted bookshelf. You will see a house that is actually lived in and not just staged for photos.

You will see real people living real lives.

We can’t compare our lives to those small pictures of someone else’s life. And we can’t compare our reading life to someone else’s either.

The reality is that not all our lives are the same. Therefore none of our reading lives are the same. So do yourself a favor and stop comparing your reading life to others.

Stack of WWII Historical Fiction Books

I was reminded recently that some people are more book collectors than book readers. They love books and they love to promote reading, but they actually read very little.

A large book blogger that I follow shares all kinds of books, especially new releases. I knew that she did not read all the books that she promoted, but when she admitted that she only reads about two books a month I was shocked.

There is nothing wrong with reading only two books a month, but by looking at her social media accounts I would have thought she read a huge number of books each month. She reads very little of what she shares.

The reality is that books are her job, not just her hobby. Her job is to promote books, she doesn’t necessarily read them.

That is not a bad thing. We need people to promote books and reading, but comparing my reading life to hers is not necessarily a fair comparison because I was comparing my reading life to the books she was sharing not the actual books she was reading.

In comparing my very good reading life to hers, I made myself feel bad. But the reality is that I read far more than she does. What appeared to be her reading life wasn’t her actual reading life.

I was comparing myself to something that wasn’t real.

flat lay of fiction books

Realizing this was just the reminder that I needed.

It is never a good idea to compare our reading lives to others. Not in the number of books that we read or the type of books that we read.

I read around a hundred books a year. Sometimes it is a little over one hundred books and sometimes it is a little under, but for the last seven or so years I have read an average of a hundred books a year. But there is no secret number of books that you should or shouldn’t read.

Neither is there a good number of nonfiction books vs fiction books that you should read.

What is a good number for me may not be for you.

For some people two hundred books a year is a good number and for others, a book a month, which would be twelve books a year, is just right.

When my kids were young and I had a newborn, a two-year-old, and a four-year-old, I was lucky to read a few books a year. That stage of my life just didn’t allow for a lot of reading time.

Then my kids grew a little older and we started homeschooling. My reading increased, but it was reading with them or for them. My reading during those years was reading books to see if I wanted for them to read them or to see if I wanted to use them for homeschooling.

That stage of life also involved a lot of audiobooks with the kids. We would listen to them in the car and while working on craft projects and puzzles. So although I read quite a bit, it was not the type of reading that I do now.

Fast forward a few years and my kids were teens and college students. My time no longer revolved as much around them. I had more time for reading what I wanted to read and for topics that I wanted to learn more about. My reading slowly increased.

My current reading life looks even a little different than that. The last five or so years have involved more doctor’s appointments and health issues than I ever imagined. Reading has become an escape in many ways.

When life got hard and I did not have a lot of energy, physically or mentally, I could still read.

A lot of doctor’s appointments also mean a lot of sitting. Instead of scrolling my phone or watching the television if the waiting room, I try to use that time for reading.

My daughter Grace and I can often remember a book where we were or what surgery we were recovering from when we read it.

A few years ago Grace read two hundred books in one year and in the following few years she read well over one hundred books. The bigger picture behind that is that those were also years when she was very sick and had multiple surgeries.

Another example is my March 2023 reading. I read a ton of books in March, but there is a bigger picture behind that number. The reality is that I wish I had not read that many books.

Stop Comparing Your Reading Life and a stack of books

My daughter and I are apparently in the small percentage that does not seem to build up immunity to Covid. In March, I had it for the fourth time. And although it was less severe this time, I had over a week in March where I read about a book a day because I just did not feel well.

That is also the reason that my reading was great for a couple of months last year. I had it twice in 2022. And have dealt with long-term health issues, including with my asthma, because of it.

When you can’t breathe you can’t do very much that takes effort. Reading is something that I can do when my asthma flares.

The reality is that I wish I had read fewer books last month because I wish my health had allowed me to do more than read.

Comparing your busy stage of life or stressful stage of life to my current life full of health issues doesn’t work.

Your reading life is going to look different than mine because your life looks different than mine.

That is all just a reminder to not compare your reading life to mine, or my daughter’s, or to anyone else’s.

My reading life has not always looked the same. In a few years, it might look different than it does now. There is no right or wrong way to read. Just read.

There is no perfect number of books to read. It doesn’t matter if it is one book a year or one hundred books a year. Focus on the reading, not the number.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to read more. I think most people could be reading a little more than they do, but stop comparing your reading life with others.

Kindle reading for travel

Someone who travels a lot may do most of their reading on airplanes and airports. Someone with a long commute to work each day may have time for a lot of audiobooks.

A person with health issues may have a lot of time for reading because it is about all that they can do.

But a person working a full-time job may have a schedule that does not allow for more than a book or two a month.

Someone with little kids or that may be caring for aging parents may not have a lot of reading time either. That is okay.

Don’t become discouraged because you do not read the number of books or types of books that someone else reads.

Compare your reading life to your life and what your life looks like right now. Don’t compare it to mine or to others that you see.

Read. For the enjoyment of it. For the love of it. Read to learn. Read to escape. Read a page. Read a chapter. It doesn’t matter if you read fast or slow. Just keep reading.

6 thoughts on “Stop Comparing Your Reading Life To Others”

  1. Lynn, I just loved this post!!! Thank you so much for sharing so openly and so beautifully putting things in perspective.

    “I was comparing myself to something that wasn’t real.“ So so so true!!!

    Also, I completely agree that stage of life (and as you share, state of health) determines the amount of free time we have to pursue anything personal, like reading, and we can’t attach our worth to a “total number of books read.” And even a high number doesn’t reflect the full picture, as you explain.

    • Thank you! I debated on sharing such an honest post, but I think the online and social media worlds need more of them, so I got brave and posted it. 🙂

  2. Thanks so much for your post! Yes, stage of life and also stage of health has a huge impact on the number of books one reads. But yes, the number is not the full story behind the person and their life. Thanks for your post. So sorry you got sick again, that’s miserable.


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