How Long Does It Take to Read the Literary Classics?

Have you always sort of wished you had read more of the literary classics but just assumed they took too long to read? Has it felt like a near impossible task get through thick books with daunting titles like The Odyssey and Crime and Punishment? To be sure, you’re not alone.

But you might be surprised at how quickly you could read them if you just blocked out even a little bit of time. In fact, did you know that some of the most commonly taught books in high school and college English courses–like Lord of the FliesBrave New World, The Catcher in the Rye, and The Great Gatsby–can all be read, on average, in less than five hours?

Granted, everyone reads at their own pace and the classics may be a tad harder to get through than others. But many research studies show that the average adult reading speed is around 300 words per minute (you may be slightly slower or faster than that, even from 200 – 400 words per minute). Based on that 300 number, you could breeze through the majority of the classic works in fewer than 10 hours each. Sure, some are really long reads (consider Les Miserables and The Count of Monte Cristo, which take upwards of 30 hours to read), but most are doable in a week if you simply read for an hour a day. Or, in a couple weeks, if you only read for 30 minutes per day.

Check out this infographic designed by Alisa Scott, specially for Compare fifty of the most popular literary classics of all time by the date they were published, their word count, and the average time it would take a person to read each.

One thought on “How Long Does It Take to Read the Literary Classics?

  • September 25, 2017 at 12:01 pm

    Hi! Very cool graphic. Thanks for sharing it. I love classic books and want to read many more. I figured one way to stay motivated was to chronicle my quest in a humor blog I call “The Classics Slacker: I’m reading the classics so you don’t have to.” This graphic will give me some much needed guidance!

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