There are so many debates around reading because it is a hobby for most and almost a way of life for others.

One popular debate is centred around how many books a person can manage to read in their lifetime.

Of course there are so many answers to this question because there are so many variables surrounding this topic.

This post will therefore discuss this in some detail in order to  shed some light on the topic.

With that said, How many books can a person read in a life time?

A person can read about 1000 books and upwards in a lifetime. Depending on a lot of factors that number can be higher or lower. Ultimately quantity is overrated, comprehension matters more…If you can read 100 books that you understand, you’re better off compared to a person that reads a thousand books with very little comprehension.

There are a lot of factors that should be considered when figuring out just how many books a person can read in a life time and I’ll discuss some of these below.

Life expectancy

We live in a different time as compared to the past and most know that life expectancy has been on a decline for a number of years.

This can be attributed to how we live and how we take care of ourselves among other things.

There are a lot of other things that contribute to life expectancy in general and this is something you have to understand.

In order to make a good estimation of how many books you’ll be able to read in your life time, you have to factor in the overall life expectancy.

It has a huge impact on the calculation as well any estimation. Because ultimately all we can do is estimate how many books can be read taking into account other factors discussed below.

The reader

Reading is not something that everyone is accustomed to…. Not all people are readers.

So while it may be possible for some people to read 50 books in a year, it can be utterly impossible for some to even get through one.

Which is why we have to consider the reader when coming up with a conclusion of how many books a person can read in a lifetime.

If a person has cultivated reading as a hobby and reads everyday they’ll likely read more than a thousand books in their lifetime.

Someone not so accustomed to reading will of course read a lot less books and it will be more than difficult to go past the thousand book mark.

Therefore the reader is a huge factor that you have to consider when figuring out how many books can be read in a life time.

If you’re trying to determine how many books you’ll be able to read through out your life. A good practice to scrutinise your reading habits and what kind of reader you are is relevant.

Ultimately this is what will determine how many books you’ll read.

Start by figuring out how many books you’re able to read in single year.

Then use your age to determine how many books you can read throughout the duration of your life.

Then add the number of books that you’ve read already.

The age of reading

The age that a person starts reading books is another thing that will contribute to how many books they manage read throughout their life.

Not all of us were fortune enough to start reading early on in our lives.

Which means we wouldn’t be able to read more books than a person that started reading books early on in life.

Some people cultivate reading as a hobby fairly early on in life and this has a huge impact on the number of books they can read in their lifetime..

Provided they continue to read.

Most people don’t get serious about reading until they reach around age 20.

Therefore life expectancy taken into account with this is a sure way of determining how many books can ultimately read in a lifetime.


People lead different lives and this has a huge impact on how often and how they read.

Some people have work careers that demand more than 90% of their days to be spent working.

This means reading may not really be something that be done often enough.

For such people, reading less than a thousand books through out their lives is more probable.

Of course there could be some that are able to balance reading and a busy life. Therefore this could be a different situation with a different outcome.

But the fact is, your lifestyle is a major contributor to how many books you read through out your life.

Reading speed

People read at different paces depending on their preference as well as experience with reading.

Some people read slow while others read fast.

For a fast reader, reading 5 books a month can be a possibility. Which would have them read about 60 books a year.

Which could easily be more than a thousand books in a lifetime.

For a slow reader however, reading 5 books in a month wouldn’t be possible.

Which means the number of books they’d manage to get through in a life time would be much lower.


Another factor we have to take into consideration is the comprehension of the reader.

Reading is not all about speed and the number of books that you can read in a given period of time.

Comprehension is always the goal and I’d assume that’s why we all read books.

With that said, your ability to comprehend material from books determines how long you spend on a book to understand it before proceeding to the next one.

For Somebody that is able to comprehend information quickly, getting through books is something that can easily be done. which means they’d read a lot of books in a life time.

The ability to comprehend books also depends on the kind of books being read.

Simpler books can be read with much ease while complex books require more effort.

Therefore all these things determine just how many books a person would be able to read in their lifetime.


Finally, conviction also has a role in the number of books that a person can read in a life time.

Your conviction as a reader is what separates you from other readers.

If you have the conviction to read alot of books then you can obviously read a lot more books than the average reader.

Which means, you could read a lot of books through out your life time.

The Formula

Below is the formula to figure out how many books you can read in a lifetime…

Begin with when you started reading. e.g. 20 years old.

Then figure out how many books you’ve read and are able read in a year. e.g 12 books..

The figure out life expectancy which we could easily put at 80.

The Formula would them be:

Number of books read in a year × (Life expectancy – Age you started reading)

Using our example this would be:

12 × (80-20) = 720 books approx.

Related Articles You Should Read

How Long Does It Take To Read A 300 Page Book?

Is It Realistic To Read A Book A Day?

Can I Read 2 Books At Once?

Can Reading Too Much Make You Crazy?

Additional Helpful Resources

How Many Books Does The Average Person Read – Basmo

How Many Books Will You Read in a Lifetime … – Slashdot

How Many Books Does the Average Person Read? – Iris Reading

This Chart Predicts How Many Books You Can Read Before – Book Bub

Here’s How Many Books You Can Expect to Read – Mental Floss

How many books can you read in a lifetime? – Nick Blackbourn

A life in 5,000 books | Financial Times