How much do I read for EconTalk?

by Russ Roberts on November 19, 2013

in Books, Podcast

EconTalk listener Joe Seybert writes:

I have an hour long commute to work every day. My co worker and I carpool and are always talking about how we need to do more reading. We listen faithfully every monday morning an yesterday we were noticing that unlike most Interviewers you seem to have always read the book, essay or article that your guest has written. We were trying to make guesses at how much reading you do every day, and when and how you fit it in with what seems like a very busy schedule. We both agreed that if we could just read about half as much as you do we would be in good shape. We need a target time to cut in half hahaha. So my question is on average how much time do you spend sitting down specifically to read.

The simple answer is that I read a lot. I do try to read all of each book that I am talking about on EconTalk but some books do get a slightly different treatment where–sometimes because of time pressure and sometimes because the book isn’t that interesting—I power skim, looking at every paragraph for content but not reading every word carefully.

I try to only pick books I want to read most or all of. Sometimes I make a mistake and pick a book that looked promising but turns out to be dull or too specialized for my audience (or me). Then I’m reading it to look for nuggets of interesting material to talk about rather than trying to do justice to the entire book in the interview. In those kind of books I might end up doing more skimming than reading.

I also try to mix up book interviews with guests talking about an article they’ve written rather than a book. Or a guest without any writing to discuss so that I don’t have to read a book each week. That’s pretty intense.

I’m lucky to be a very fast reader, about a page a minute, so that helps. So to try to quantify that, I probably spend something like five hours a week reading books. Some weeks a little more, some a little less.

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