Skip to main content

When 3x500 is less than 1000

Reading books is a wonderful thing. One of the wonders if how it affects how you experience time. Sometimes you notice you have lost hours without noticing. Other times it feels like you have been reading for hours but only a fraction of that had actually passed.

This relative time can happen with any book. What I have noticed however is that usually it's those long 1000+ page tomes that usually end up making the passage of time feel much longer than it actually is. Likewise the shorter ones seem to have the ability to compress time.

My last two reading experiences are good examples of this. First, the Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson at thousand pages felt like it took forever to read. I remember having multiple occasions when I though I thought I had spend hours reading when it actually was jus half an hour or so. And the page count didn't feel to progress at all during that time. There were also passages that I just speed read through to get past them faster and progress the story.

After I finally finished it I have been reading the Broken Earth trilogy by N.K. Jemisin. It felt it ended too soon. I just breezed through all three books. Felt like it took much less time with all three than the single one before them. Sure they were only 500 or so pages each, but still 50% more in total.

Of course this is highly dependant pn the book itself: the story, writing style and many other things. But still, this is not the first time I have noticed it. The pattern tends to repeat itself over and over again.

The goal of a book is to tell a story. To get through it the author needs to keep the reader interested. The story needs to have a beginning, middle part and the conclusion. The longer the book the more effort there is to keep the reader interested between these parts. Dividing the story in three parts, in three books is a common strategy, it makes those parts clearly distinct. But Any of those parts don't really work alone. So when splitting the story like this, each of those parts need to have their own beginning, middle and end parts. This way the gaps between parts become smaller and it's easier to have the sense of progress. When things move fast, time moves fast as well.