Does it take longer to read the book or to watch the movie?

Published on September 23, 2014

The most common answer to that question would be that it takes longer to read the book. However, there are a few exceptions such as The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. I decided to have a look at some popular books and short stories turned into either movies or tv-series and compare the time it would take to read them with the time it would take to watch the adaption. I’ve visualized the result in two graphs below. The time it would take to read a book has been calculated using the word count of the book and the average reading speed for adults, 300 words/minute.

Time to read the book vs. time to watch the movie or series

Show logarithmic axes
Movie/series length [hours]
Time to read book [hours]

Hover over the dots to show information about each individual book or search for a specific book using the search field.

The graph below shows how many times longer it takes to read the book than to watch the movie. Hover over the bars to see word count and movie length.

How many times longer does it take to read the book?
< Faster to read the book
Faster to watch the movie >

* I have calculated the probable final length of the Hobbit film series using and average of the two first movies for the third.

** The Lord of the Rings is often seen as a trilogy but is infact a single novel consisting of six parts (books) published in three volumes. Since the story of each movie doesn’t follow the story of each volume exactly I’ve chosen to show the both the book and the movie as a single work in this list.

The sources used for the word counts were LotrProject,, HuffingtonPost, Wikipedia: List of longest novels, FiveThirtyEight, the New Yorker [1] [2] and word counts from ebooks. Movie and series length has been collected from IMDb.