My husband and I went to see Blade Runner 2049 last night, and I had no idea how long it was before we sat down. But its running time didn’t bother me at all. It was a visually stunning movie that furthered a storyline I’d been very captivated by when I was young. I could have kept watching for a least another hour. Interestingly, I did know the running time of The Revenant was 156 minutes before we watched it. In the case of The Revenant, we were going to the movie with friends and trying to gauge what time we would be exiting the theatre for dinner plans. That can be the way things are in our busy lives. We may want to see the movie no matter what, however, how long it runs can be a consideration when we are trying to squeeze in the time to see it, factoring in details like how much will we owe the babysitter, how tired will we be, and will there a risk we will end up falling asleep before the end, (regardless of how stimulating the movie is).
This got me thinking about knowing how long a novel is ahead of time as well. Honestly, sometimes it is just about fitting in the time to read. It used to be that you judged how long the book was when you picked up the heavy new hard cover copy at the book store. I remember hefting a hard cover version of Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour in 1990 (965 pages) and wondering how I was going to fit in time to read it because I happened to be working two summer jobs and had a new boyfriend. Mostly this is because I don’t want to read it for maybe just about 15 minutes a day, for however many days it takes. I want to read it, and read it, and read it some more, until it’s done. Sort of like how we binge watch television these days. As soon as you select a series, via your provider that will stream unlimited entertainment your way, it tells you how many seasons, and with a quick tallying of how many episodes per season, you can estimate how many days of your life you are about to waste.
With ebooks, as soon as you touch the book on your tablet, it tells you how many pages. I just bought Dan Brown’s Origin, and it comes in at 1313 pages. I don’t think I can be the only one who looks at page counts, how many episodes, or movie running times. It’s just the reality of being busy these days. The sad part is when we let a long running time, a high page count, or “7 seasons,” (sorry all things Star Trek that I missed watching the first time around), deter us from exploring something we may end up really enjoying, because it just sounds like we don’t have the time.