NOTICE: (Updated March 5, 2010)

Beginning December 19, 2009, Books 'N Border Collies will be posting but only intermittently while I pursue personal goals. I plan to share some reading I'm doing, but there will be no reviews. I will, however, be sharing my exploration of vegetarian cooking and the cookbooks and websites I use to educate myself. I hope you enjoy it!

Lezlie



Wednesday, August 26, 2009

How Many Short Stories Does It Take To Make A Book?



When it comes to my reading, I am a numbers junkie. I understand that what can be "counted" is highly subjective and that the "number" of books I read is really meaningful only to me. Still, I am a numbers junkie. I've accepted that about myself and I'm learning to deal with it.

What I'm discovering is that because of this weird obsession with numbers, I don't read very many short stories because I prefer to pick them out individually from various books and authors rather than read a book of short stories all the way through. My plan originally was to count the number of pages and have a certain number of pages count as a book in my final totals for the year. However, for some inexplicable reason I am finding that to be too inconvenient. And if I read short stories online I don't know how many pages there are. Consequently, even though I'm buying short story anthologies like mad, I'm once again procrastinating on reading all these little gems because I can't figure out a way to easily count them. Ridiculous but honest.

I'm considering setting a goal next year of 200 books, which is peanuts for some of you wildly prolific readers out there (of whom I am in jaw-dropping awe), but for me it's a major stretch and I don't want to neglect short stories again in pursuit of that goal. So -- How many individual short stories should I read before considering them equal to reading a "book"? I don't want to make it too easy, but I don't want to make it too demanding either. Here's where you come in. Take this poll and give me your thoughts. I understand it's silliness on my part, but I can't possibly be alone in this dilemma. And knowing that makes me feel normal. Well -- you know what I mean. . . :-)






29 comments:

Nymeth said...

I remember wondering about this too a few years ago. We're such geeks :P Anyway, I guess it depends on the length, but I'd say ten. Most short story collections don't have much more than that.

Lezlie said...

Nymeth ~ At least we can all be geeks together. :-) I like that number, but it felt like cheating if I decided on it myself. It will be fun to see what our community has to say on this issue!

Lezlie

farmlanebooks said...

That depends on how long they are! Nocturnes was only 5 short stories. Most I've seen have been 10 or less, but perhaps I'm reading longer short stories than you? I voted 10.

Would it be better to count page numbers? 250 pages = a book? Sorry, does that just confuse things!

Lezlie said...

Farm Lane Books ~ Counting pages isn't working for me. In the back of my mind I'm thinking really short stories would only count as 1/2. I wouldn't feel right about counting something like The Story of an Hour, which is only two pages long, as "one" if the total to qualify as a "book" turns out to be a number like 10. Does that make sense? I confuse myself sometimes. :-)

Lezlie

Jenny said...

Wow, looks like we all agree, lol!

JoAnn said...

This is the first year I've been reading stories, and was wondering the same thing! For the moment, I have two separate lists - books read and stories read. Not sure if I really like this 'method' though...

Lezlie said...

Jenny ~ And I'm liking the number everyone seems to be agreeing on! Much less intimidating than 25+. :-)

JoAnn ~ I still list them separately, but if I can just count the stories at the end of the year and merge them into some sort of total I can add to my book total with ease, that would make me a happy camper.

If it does turn out that I read an entire book of short stories, I would list that one as a book rather than as separate stories.

It's fun to see how other "counters" keep track of these kinds of things!

Lezlie

Serena said...

Looks like I'm in the majority with 15 stories.

Good luck with your goal of 200 books.

Care said...

I voted for groups of 10. Easier to keep it metric, anyway.

Valerie said...

I voted for ten also. I hadn't thought of keeping track of short stories individually, which I've been reading more of this year.

wow, 200 books! I feel like such a slow reader :-).

Rebecca Reid said...

Wow, 200 books is huge!!!! Oh my. I have to agree with Jackie that I think page numbers would be more accurate. But I didn't vote because I really don't know. Just read and enjoy it :)

Lezlie said...

Serena ~ Thanks! 15 is a good number, too. I thought that might get the most votes.

Care ~ 10 is a nice number to do math with. :-)

Valerie ~ I'm not a fast reader either, so 200 is pretty much a pipe dream, even with all the audiobooks I listen to. But hubby said he'd be supportive in my quest, so I might just go for it.

Lezlie

Lezlie said...

Rebecca ~ I originally thought page count would be more accurate also. Then I started thinking that a book of less than 200 pages and a book of 1000+ pages both count as one book. Then there's type size, if there are introductions I read or skip, etc., etc. In the end, I think it all kind of balances itself out over the course of a year, and I can compare my personal achievements year-to-year just as accurately either way as long as I've used the same continuing method.

I think I just convinced myself that it doesn't matter *what* I decide as long as I use it consistently. LOL! Thanks for being my sounding board! :-)

Lezlie

Rebecca Reid said...

I should say, Lezlie, that while I don't have a "books read" goal each year, I do have a spread sheet where I count how many books I read each month, how many pages, what genres, etc. So I can compare months. I truly am a geek about these things, I just don't have "before-hand" goals. It's all tracking after the fact.

Lezlie said...

Rebecca ~ That's so cool! I'm too lazy to do anything that detailed. It must be so fun to compare all the information later!

Lezlie

Eva said...

Most modern ss collections seem to have about 10 stories, although the anthologies are huge. :D

This annoyed me too, which is why I made a seperate page for 'short stories read' this year so that I would feel fine in reading them! I don't worry about tracking page counts, though-I tried for a bit at the beginning of the year but I totally forgot by Feb. hehe And I read so much nonfic, where you have to really look to see the page count since there's usually a bunch of endnotes, index, etc. that I can't just use Amazon's page counts.

Lezlie said...

Hi, Eva! I was hoping you'd weigh in on this one. You seem to be really good at reading short stories. I totally get you with the page counts. It's not hard to do, I just find it inconvenient.

Lezlie

Joanne said...

Hi, Lezlie! I have a little something for you -- can you stop by my blog for a minute? Thanks!

Lezlie said...

Joanne ~ I'm on my way right now!

Lezlie

Teddy Rose said...

I always print out short stories because I can't stand reading more than a page on my comouter screen. Therefore, I always know the nuber of pages for each story.

Most collections I have read don't have more than 10 short stories. If your going to count stories rather than pages, I wouldn't get caught up in how many pages each are. I would count a 2 page story because most likely a lot of other of the ten would be longer. I have seen 2 pages short stories in collections and they should count.

Teddy's rambling again. LOL!

Lezlie said...

Teddy ~ Rambling is welcome! :-) Ten does seem like a good number. And I'll keep that in mind about the 2-pagers. I suppose it the short story world, that would be like a book that's only 90 pages, or something like that.

Lezlie

Jackie said...

I just got my first collection of short stories but hadn't looked inside to see how many there are within the book. I think 10 is a good number with most short stories being longer than your 2 page example. You seem to have truly analyzed this well. I hope you find a method that works for you, lol. Best of luck with the 200 books (I'm trying for 50 this year.)

Lezlie said...

Jackie ~ Thanks! I think *way* too hard about all this goofiness. :-) I just need to find a method I can live with. If it gets too complicated I'll abandon it, and if I'm not consistent, then comparing numbers over the years will mean nothing. If only these were the worst problems in the world, right? :-)

Lezlie

Jackie said...

That's very true, Lezlie.

Trish said...

Once again too late to read all the comments to see if I'm repeating myself. Sorry. :P

I'm absolutely and completely with you on the short stories. I love them and I have volumes and volumes of them but I don't read them because it almost seems like they don't count. Although, if it makes you feel better I just finished my 40th book for the year. Still good by commonfolk standard (can I call non-readers commonfolk?), but I wish I could get just a little bit more read. Anyway, not dwelling on that.

I saw someone earlier this year counting 300 pages worth of short stories as one book. Seemed like a great idea, but I'm still lazy.

Of the two short story volumes I have on my desk, there is 8 in one and 9 in the other. I think one story in each book is rather lengthy, though. I'd say 10 stories per book is average?

Kim L said...

I try not to get too far into numbers because I drive myself wild that way. It seems like 10 is a good number, and probably an average number for a short-story collection. Good luck with your new goal!

Lezlie said...

Trish ~ Isn't it funny how so many of us feel that way knowing full well how silly it is? :-) 40 books is great! Most people I know (bloggers not included) are lucky if they read five to ten.

Yeah, that page counting idea went nowhere with me this year. That's why I have to find a simpler method for next year. It's much easier to count stories than pages. Maybe "10 stories" sounds less duanting in our minds than "300 pages".

Kim ~ Not getting hung up on numbers is the sanest way to be, that's for sure! I keep it under control by only using my numbers to compare myself to myself. I don't compare my numbers to other readers, or that *would* drive me crazy. We have a lot of super-fast readers in our community! Though I still reverve the right to be green-jealous of those folks who can read 300+ books a year. I sooo wish I could do that. Think how much faster our TBR piles/lists could be conquered! :-)

Lezlie

Kristen howe said...

Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog earlier this week. Good book review. Sounds like a good read.

Lezlie said...

Kristen ~ You're very welcome!
Lezlie