If you’re put off chugging through the almost 1,500 pages of War and Peace by the sheer dread of how many hours of your life such a task may steal from you, there is a fun solution to your woes.
Online database How Long to Read This does what it says on the tin and gives you a pretty accurate idea of how long it might take to reach the final pages of more than 12 million titles.
How it works is very simple. You simply search for a novel on the website and select the book cover that looks most like the one you’ll be reading. The cogs will whir away and come up with an estimated length of time based on the average reading speed on 300 words per minute.
Most iconic book covers
Most iconic book covers
1/12 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
Francis Cugat designed the cover art for Fitzgerald's quintessential jazz age novel. He finished it before the book was complete and the author liked it so much he 'wrote it into' the novel.
2/12 The Godfather - Mario Puzo
This 1969 cover art was produced by S Neil Fujita and became so iconic that the gothic typeface and puppeteer's hand were used as imagery in the film too.
3/12 The Cat in the Hat - Dr Seuss
Theodor Seuss Geisel designed this cartoon for his own 1957 children's classic.
4/12 Fifty Shades of Grey - EL James
If this cover to EL James' first erotic novel isn't one of the most iconic sleeves of recent times, we don't know what is.
5/12 The Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
Salinger was known for being fussy when it came to his book designs. He liked them simple with the only words being his name and the title, like this one by E Michael Mitchell.
6/12 'Porno' - Irvine Welsh
DJ Design came up with this crass cover for Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting sequel that few book-buyers could walk by without noticing.
7/12 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
American jazz musician and designer Paul Bacon created this simple yet striking cover for Heller's novel. He is also the man behind the One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Slaughterhouse-Five sleeves.
8/12 One Day - David Nicholls
Craig Ward designed this bright romantic sleeve for David Nicholls' 2009 novel.
9/12 A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
David Pelham came up with this famous cover ten years after A Clockwork Orange was first published in 1962.
10/12 In Cold Blood - Truman Capote
S Neil Fujita designed this crime thriller's sleeve using a classic typeface, a strong black border and a simple drop of blood. The drop was brighter at first but Capote asked for it to be made darker as time had elapsed since the murders.
11/12 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
Illustrator Elmer Hader painted this by Steinbeck's request for his 1939 novel. He then created the cover art for East of Eden and The Winter of Our Discontent, too.
12/12 Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison
Edward McKnight Kauffer's powerful artwork represents the protagonist who is struggling to assert his identity in a world of hate.
If you reckon you’re faster or slower than most, you can time your reading with a 125-word sample paragraph and get an even more accurate approximation.
Of course, one possible drawback, as noted by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, is that you are likely to read the simple supplied paragraph far faster than, say, Ulysses or Bleak House. So if you really want to do this properly, grab your copy and time yourself reading a similar length chunk from that instead.
How long it takes the average reader to tackle the classics:
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens - 7 hours, 56 minutes
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte - 8 hours, 50 minutes
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky - 9 hours, 17 minutes
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy - 20 hours, 24 minutes
Ulysses by James Joyce - 9 hours, 37 minutes
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte - 4 hours, 50 minutes
The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien - 4 hours, 15 minutes
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - 5 hours, 26 minutes
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck - 6 hours, 34 minutes
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley - 2 hours, 21 minutesReuse content