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How Long to Read?

  1. (A) 7 days

  2. (A) > 7 days

  3. (A) A few hours

  4. (B) 14 days

  5. (B) > 14

  6. (B) A few hours to a few days

  7. (C) 1 hour

  8. (C) 30 minutes

  9. (C) > 30 minutes

Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Apr 6, 2012 #1
    (A) How long does it take you to read a regular 300-paged novel?

    (B) How long does it take you to read and understand a 500-1000 paged textbook?

    (C) How long does it take you to read a research paper (20-pages of jargon) provided you aren't in the field and while knowing a little, not quite as much as the paper posits within its writings?

    EDIT: Try this as well after answering the questions!

    Last edited: Apr 6, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 6, 2012 #2


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    Sorry if I'm trashing your post. I chose the longer possible because i'm a professional procrastinator, seriously. If the question was "In how long are you capable of", I would have answered differently.

    I can edit my choice if you want me to. (is it possible?)
  4. Apr 6, 2012 #3
    No, no, your procrastination is taken into account.

    But if you pick up a novel and read it seriously enough w/out procrastinating, could you please record the time it took you and report back?
  5. Apr 6, 2012 #4


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    The choices are unclear. For example...

    (A) What should I pick if I take 2 days?
    (B) What should I pick if I take 8 days?
    (C) This one is unclear and messy. What should I pick if I take 2 hours?
  6. Apr 6, 2012 #5
    I didn't pick three options in the poll for the reasons Gokul mentioned, and because of some other subtleties. I'll try to answer your questions in my post, however.

    Depends very much on the writing style of the author. Some novels that size take me only two hours max to read. However, there are also plenty of novels where the author uses a more archaic writing style (to name but one example of what might slow me down), in which case it can take me a few days.

    Again, this very much depends on what textbook I'm reading. A simple precalculus book or a book on a programming language? A few hours. Max. A textbook on advanced cryptography? Much, much longer than that.

    It probably doesn't surprise you that I'm going to say 'it depends!' :tongue: Some papers are simply harder to understand or less well-written than others, and the resulting difference in reading speed can be huge.
  7. Apr 6, 2012 #6
    (A) 2 days = >7 days
    (B) 8 days = >14 days
    (C) ...

    I should have added 7+, 14+, or 1+ to the polling, I cannot re-edit it though, so just go with 1 hour until one of the Mentor's are able to edit the higher numbers with "+".
  8. Apr 6, 2012 #7
    Huh. That makes little sense and is counterintuitive for most of us programmer-and-math-types around here. '> X' generally means MORE than X. Thus, people who spend 2 days on something would be more inclined to choose '7 days', as opposed to '>7 days'.
  9. Apr 6, 2012 #8
    ... :redface:

    No wonder people were confused. I stupidly messed up the poll. Heh, it needs a re-edit.
  10. Apr 6, 2012 #9
    I fly through novels, easily a couple a week on the commute to uni, sometimes I get a proper thick one and spend a week or two on it, and other times I finish one in a sitting.

    I catch myself skimming the text a bit with modern fiction and biographies, but older books I tend to read much slower, the language is a bit unfamiliar and on the whole, a lot more colourful and interesting IMHO.

    Technical books and papers I have to read and re-read, sometimes I need to digest a whole chapter again, and often I don't finish them and just read the parts that interest me.
  11. Apr 6, 2012 #10
    A) 7days
    I usually audio book them on the bus so I get ~3-4 hours a day of it
    B)14 days
    Possibly less than 14 days, I usually go at it non stop for the days I'm working on it.. I don't really get much else done on those days
    C)>30 minutes
    I don't really read many papers so >30 minutes seemed the most 'I don't really know' of the three options :p
  12. Apr 6, 2012 #11
    A) > 7 Days
    B) > 14 Days
    C) > 30 minutes (and usually > than an hour)

    As you can tell, I am a pretty slow reader. I always take my time in order to properly "absorb" the information, at least in a way that satisfies my need to understand the material presented. I nitpick what people write, and if it does not make sense to me (or if I read somethign that appears contrary to that), then I have to re-read it over and again until it does (and believe me it happens). Its really frustrating :(.
  13. Apr 6, 2012 #12


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    Regular novel? I won't be able to finish it. I lose interest :zzz:
    Like, an intro to sociology text? Or Sakurai? Big difference! A difference of many many weeks, for me!

    I actually had to do this several times for my job. The papers I read were about the potential carcinogenic effects of certain chemicals. In college, I had freshman biology and some biochem. But the papers made lots of references to cell types and metabolic pathways - I couldn't follow that part of it. Luckily I didn't have to understand it at a deep level. So while I could *read* them in a couple hours, I didn't have a good grasp on the mechanisms they were describing.
  14. Apr 7, 2012 #13
    Depends how into it I get. I'm just gonna say >14 as I get distracted very easily. Difficult for me to get into a book and read long portions in a sitting.
  15. Apr 7, 2012 #14


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    Alright, I'll do that. Not sure when tho... mind me asking why?
  16. Apr 7, 2012 #15


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    I probably should have chosen the time based on the time I spent actually reading it? Or how much time, based on how much time each day I actually have to devote to reading (or how much time I create by putting off other things for material that really interests me)?

    I chose the latter option. Unless it's a really boring novel, it will definitely take me less than a week to finish it. It's hard for me to just toss a novel aside unifinished unless it's just incredibly bad, or a novel about Poland in World War II (Poland was such an incredibly depressing place during the war that it's practically unbearable to even read about it), so boring novels just take longer, since I'm only using free time instead of making time to read it.

    Text (or informational) style books can only take so long. If it's taking too long, there's a good chance I'll just start skimming to find the information that I really needed, making my answer a little misleading. I may never really finish the book in its entirety. Instead, it will sit on my book shelf so I can keep coming back to it to refine what I got from my initial reading.

    Short papers don't take very long, since they're probably focused solely on what I wanted to know.
  17. Apr 8, 2012 #16


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    If it is good a few hours. I probably read somewhere between 80-100 pages per hour of a standard paperback. Usually however I force myself to put the book down several times and do something else so that after a few hours I'm not left with nothing to do again.
    The understand part of that is why it takes me much longer. Sometimes I have to read a page several times and then spend a lot of time thinking about it/looking it up to understand what it is saying.
    When I read a paper I tend to just read it through once. Then I ask myself "what is the question this research is trying to address?" and I read it through again to identify that (which can be a very quick task). Then I look at whether or not what they did could answer the question. Then I look at whether or not they did answer the question.

    I always find that to properly read a paper takes several goes wherein you recognise more and look at it in a different light each time.
  18. Apr 8, 2012 #17


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    I answered only the "A" section, because I've never read either of the other things. While I don't really read any more, I do have a couple of thousand novels kicking around. I have been known to read the same one twice in the same day if I really loved it.
  19. Apr 9, 2012 #18
    Who really "reads" (B)?
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