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100 novels in 2022


Johnny-5
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On 1/6/2023 at 10:54 PM, PerpetualChange said:

I'd love to know more about how you find the time to do this.

 

Not being sarcastic here... I'm 30% through a book that I've been reading since October 2022. I can't imagine I'll finish it before March or April. 

Even in my native language, I spend 1-2 months reading a book. Depending on the style, I take about 5-10 minutes to read a page.

 

Granted... I only spend 1-2 hours per day reading, if that. Many days, it is much less. 

 

So... what's it look like?  As a guy with a wife, kid, fulltime job, other commitments/hobbies. Spell it out for me. What's a day in the life look like?

Well, first off I'm tackling Agatha Christie books which are not the longest or most challenging books around. So oftentimes my Kindle tells me that the current book will take 4-5 hours to read.

 

Second I trained myself to listen/read faster. At first I was at 0.75x and found it hard to keep up with the text and the meaning, so I bumped it down to 0.5x and read a few books that way, but gradually I tried speeding it up (and also not trying to read anything too far outside my comfort zone) and now I cruise at 1.75x and at that pace a 200 page book takes about 4 hours.

 

Third, I used to watch Youtube videos or browse the web for an hour or so before bed, but that's good reading time. Also breakfast and lunch time I can get some reading in, and other times I may not be reading but I can have my headphones in while I'm driving and make progress in the story. I have two kids and one of them has no trouble doing homework, but the other needs to be watched, so I can sit with her and read (say "I'm doing my homework") while she's doing hers.

 

I don't cut into family time or other obligations, but just fit it in where I can... Hell, I'll also set a bookmark and let my Kindle read me to sleep. I find it stimulating enough to keep my mind off other topics, but not so stimulating to keep me awake. I usually have to go back and start over from the bookmark the next day.

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On 1/6/2023 at 4:24 PM, Johnny-5 said:

now I cruise at 1.75x

 

Even this is a feat in its own. I find listening to audiobooks quite challenging because I tend to drift in and out of focus. However, doing so for 4 hours at 1.75x speed in Chinese and staying focussed is pretty incredible....

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On 1/8/2023 at 1:12 PM, imron said:

This was one of the main use cases it was designed for. 

I ran that known words LUA script and it's pretty awesome, but the fact that Calibre stores the ebooks with pinyin filenames makes it a challenge to figure out which books are which in a long list.

 

Have you got anything to help out on getting the data back into Calibre?

 

I was thinking I might try to get CTA to write the percentages of known words directly into the metadata.opf Calibre stores with each book, but that's not a very clean method, have you got a more elegant solution?

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On 1/8/2023 at 9:17 PM, Johnny-5 said:

I was thinking I might try to get CTA to write the percentages of known words directly into the metadata.opf Calibre stores with each book, but that's not a very clean method

What is unclean about it?  Seems like metadata would be a good use for this (but I know nothing about the caliber format)

Another alternative would be to write the stats to a separate file named the same but with a separate extension, so stats for huozhe.txt would be written to huozhe.stats or similar. 

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On 1/5/2023 at 9:34 AM, Johnny-5 said:

I like reading mysteries and cannot find any written in Chinese so I haven't bothered looking.

Mystery as a genre is not very big (yet) in China, but apparently there are a few authors, see article. Not mentioned in the article is Chan Ho-kei 陈浩基, a Hong Kong author of mysteries in the Sherlock Holmes tradition.

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On 1/9/2023 at 4:30 AM, imron said:

Seems like metadata would be a good use for this

 

Yeah, Calibre stores the metadata in an XML file called metadata.opf file in the same directory that each book is stored in. Looks to be a pretty simple operation of opening up the file, finding the correct slot and writing the value, but I don't know where to start.

I've never tried messing with LUA before and I don't really know how to go about opening and writing to an XML file, or any kind of file for that matter.

 

In the documentation you mention this https://keplerproject.github.io/luafilesystem/ but that's a dead link... So I'm kinda stuck for what to do

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On 1/10/2023 at 12:33 PM, imron said:

luafilesystem appears to have been moved here:

 

https://github.com/lunarmodules/luafilesystem

 

I haven't investigated it, but this library seems to provide xml support in Lua:

https://github.com/clear-code/xmlua

Well, I figured out how to edit the metadata files, but unsurprisingly it turns out they are merely backup files and the main info is stored in a database.

 

 

Looks like there's no good way to re-introduce the info from CTA back into Calibre without a lot more work (using the API or making a plugin)

But I can extract the Chinese name from the metadata file and use that to make the results list more readable... so a win in my book 8)

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On 1/7/2023 at 3:22 PM, Jan Finster said:

Even this is a feat in its own. I find listening to audiobooks quite challenging because I tend to drift in and out of focus. However, doing so for 4 hours at 1.75x speed in Chinese and staying focussed is pretty incredible....

It can be a battle to stay focused, but there are ways to give yourself an advantage.

 

I would say I stay focused for 4 hour stretches. I usually go for half hour stretches, maybe as long as an hour and a half. It really depends on how compelling and understandeable the content is. I was read "Notre Dame de Paris" and it was well outside my comfort zone and also I didn't find the story interesting and I couldn't focus well at all, even though it was challenging I found Les Mis to be much more compelling.

Then there was "the unexpected guest" (意外来客)  from Agatha Christie, it's not hard to read and I found every moment of the story compelling, so I probably did read that one nearly straight through.

 

Listening with the text helps keep me anchored to what's going on and not getting distracted. Seeing the underline of the current sentence also helps a lot if my attention wanders for a second. 

 

If my attention wanders too much then I'll abandon a book because it's either too hard or too boring or both. I'll ditch a book even if I'm several hours in. Or maybe I'll let it drone in the background only half paid attention to or understood. I try not to do that too much, but sometimes I just want to get a book over and done with.

 

oftentimes I need to take walks because then at least I'm "doing something" and not just trying to sit in one place and focus on a book.

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If you enjoy the mystery/crime genre and are looking for native material you could try 推理之王 trilogy by 紫金陈. The second book (The Bad Kids) was my favorite and stands on its own pretty well. This was also made into a well received TV show.

 

Here is the character count / unique character count using Chinese Text Analyzer:

 

 

 

 

CTA of bad kids trilogy.png

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On 1/15/2023 at 2:31 AM, Dr Mack Rettosy said:

If you enjoy the mystery/crime genre and are looking for native material you could try 推理之王 trilogy by 紫金陈.

Just looking in my library I think that I did read 无证之罪... can't say that I know what it was about, but I don't recall disliking it so I think I might check out the other books. 

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On 1/8/2023 at 1:12 PM, imron said:

This was one of the main use cases it was designed for.

It works well. 

"Crime and Punishment" (罪与罚) percolated up the list of books, CTA says I know 95% of the words and I was skeptical because it's a "classic of Russian literature" which I assume means "hard". (I also assumed it meant "boring", but that doesn't seem to be the case either.)

 

In actual fact I'm finding it quite enjoyable and easy to read.

The fact that it is sort of a murder mystery probably has something to do with why my known word list from reading lots of mysteries would have significant overlap.

 

Looking at some scifi books in my collection and they're under 90% known, which I can tell means they won't be fun or easy to read.

Interesting to see actual hard numbers on "narrow reading"

 

Another interesting thing, I used another program to merge all of the books I've read (as far as I remember) into a single text file and some stats...

I've read 7,281,888 words in Chinese

I've read 10,676,852 characters

The unique words in all that amount to 46,716

of which I know about 10,000 ie. 95%of the most common words

or if you go by the "meeting it 17 times or more" metric then I should know 16,000 words.

 

statistic nerding out with CTA is easy 8)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Congrats!  10m chars in a year is quite an achievement as is being able to read at 1.75x listening speed, which is approx 435 characters per minute.

 

I don't know of a good online vocab test, but here's a good online character count test that estimates your # known chars in about a minute.

 

http://hanzitest.ericjiang.com/

 

I scored 4300 just now, and I have ~4600 chars in my flash cards, so it's pretty accurate for me, considering I'm sure I forgot a few chars from my pile.

 

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On 1/31/2023 at 1:31 AM, phills said:

Congrats!  10m chars in a year is quite an achievement as is being able to read at 1.75x listening speed, which is approx 435 characters per minute.

Thanks, it's quite encouraging to reflect on your progress. How do you figure on the 435 ch/m? I was thinking I could work it out based on how long a book takes and the character count, but I hadn't actually done the math.

 

On 1/31/2023 at 1:31 AM, phills said:

I don't know of a good online vocab test, but here's a good online character count test that estimates your # known chars in about a minute.

 

http://hanzitest.ericjiang.com/

Saw something on that page that I think reflects on my state of Chinese literacy; in the FAQ they say "For many native speakers, recognizing characters is the primary obstacle in their literacy. For many non-native speakers who've crammed a bunch of hanzi flashcards, recognizing characters often does not mean understanding the word or sentence. For example, you may recognize "下" and "摆" but not understand that "下摆" means "hem"."

I didn't remember the character "摆" or the word "hem" (guess that doesn't come up much in murder mysteries) but looking up "摆" in Pleco I see that I know a large number of the words that contain that character. I'm not sure if they're saying I should cram some flash cards, but they might be saying that :lol:

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On 2/4/2023 at 12:31 AM, Johnny-5 said:

How do you figure on the 435 ch/m? I was thinking I could work it out based on how long a book takes and the character count, but I hadn't actually done the math.

 

Average speaking speed is said to be around 250cpm.  So 1.75 * 250 = 435. 

 

Empirically, I've listened to a lot of audiobooks, and 250cpm is pretty close to what I've measured as the speed, the few times I've done it.  E.g. sapiens (non-fiction) on youtube is at 285cpm.  I've listened to a wuxia novel 流星蝴蝶剑 at 200cpm.  One of the Foundation novels (Asimov sci-fi) I've listened to on ximalaya is 245cpm.

 

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On 2/4/2023 at 9:22 PM, Moshen said:

Average speaking speed in English is around 180 words/minute.  Does that mesh?  180 English words equivalent to about 250 Chinese characters?

 

Pretty close.  I've seen a study that sets the average Chinese word as ~1.5 characters.  So 180 * 1.5 = 270 cpm.  If English speaking speed is 170wpm, it'd be 170 * 1.5 = 255 cpm.


Quick googling, https://virtualspeech.com/blog/average-speaking-rate-words-per-minute says from sampling TED talks:

The average speaking rate was 173 words per minute.

The speaking rate ranged from 154 to 201 words per minute.

Popular TED Talk speaking rates

  • How great leaders inspire action (Simon Sinek) – 170 wpm
  • The power of introverts (Susan Cain) – 176 wpm
  • Do schools kill creativity? (Sir Ken Robinson) - 165 wpm
  • Why we do what we do (Tony Robbins) – 201 wpm
  • The power of vulnerability (Brené Brown) – 154 wpm

So it's very close for everyone other than Tony Robbins! 

 

Edit: That source also gives:

Average speech rates

  • Presentations: between 100-150 wpm for a comfortable pace
  • Conversational: between 120-150 wpm
  • Audiobooks: between 150-160 wpm, which is the upper range that people comfortably hear and vocalize words
  • Radio hosts and podcasters: between 150-160 wpm
  • Auctioneers: can speak at about 250 wpm
  • Commentators: between 250-400 wpm

 

Kennedy's Inaugural Ask-not-what-your-country-can-do-for-you speech was apparently at 100wpm.

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