Does it count as reading if it’s a graphic novel?

15195When someone tells me they are reading a book, I imagine a 200+ page novel with writing taking up the whole page on every page. You?

Often with BookTube I will be watching a video and someone will say they  have read 15 books that month and I  will think “wow, that’s loads”, usually though it turns out that they have “read” a lot of graphic novels, and I’m disappointed.

From my point of view, a graphic novel is essentially a longer/bigger version of a comic. Most people would say they “read” a comic however, so is it fair to say the same with a graphic novel? Or is it fair in some contexts but not others? Fair in the general population but not on BookTube for example?

If you go to a movie with subtitles do you say you saw the movie or read the movie? You say you saw it. If you go to a gallery and there are notes/explanations beside the painting/photo/sculpture, do you say you read the piece or saw the piece? You say you saw it. So if a graphic novel is mostly pictures, why say you read it when you wouldn’t say you read a movie?

I think it is fair to say that graphic novels take as much work as a traditional novel, but so do lots of things and we aren’t calling them novels or claiming to read them. Then again, if you aren’t going to say you read a graphic novel what term can you use? Saying you “experienced” it seems a bit pretentious, saying you “looked” at it suggests a quick glance at the cover. So what is right?

From what I have seen on BookTube I think I am probably in the minority thinking that it isn’t really fair to count graphic novels amongst more traditional books. If however we decided that they don’t compare and therefore shouldn’t be called novels, what should we call them? Graphic collections? Comic collections? What do you guys think?


17 thoughts on “Does it count as reading if it’s a graphic novel?

  1. Really interesting post- I get what you mean about seeing people have read a lot and then seen it’s all graphic novels. I used to think like that until I started reading them this year and then I realised there was no other way to track my progress or the number of books I’d read in a month without just counting them as “read”- I guess for me personally I’ll only know if I read more/less this year is if it does page counts in comparison. I also feel like everyone just has to be responsible for their own reading- so if I read graphic novels, which feel a lot easier, I try to read something much harder next to make up for it. But that’s a bit tangential- really interesting discussion post!

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  2. An interesting thought! I track how many books i read and I do count comics and graphic novels the same way I count books. I am spending time reading them and for convenience sake I log them the same. But I also think if you read 15 books in a month and 10 were graphic novels it doesn’t carry the same weight. I also think this about audio books. I’ve heard of people who listen to them all day, slightly sped up, then say they’ve read 30 books in a month or something. But really they’re mostly listening.

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  3. I agree that reading graphic novels isn’t the same as reading an actual novel. However, it is still reading. I’ve never been big on reading graphic novels but I love audiobooks and I still think that it’s not the same thing as reading an actual novel.

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  4. I count any books I read, whether they are traditional novels, graphic novels or audio books. You’re taking in the story so to me it doesn’t matter how long etc they are. Even just looking at traditional novels there are massive differences, a 200 page novel and an 800 page novel both get marked once even though one is 4 times the size!

    When tracking books though, I don’t compare my reading to others. Somebody could read twice as much as me purely because they have more time for or just read faster. I just like to see how I’m doing for fun.

    Basically, it’s just up to you how you look at things! As well as the number of books, I also track pages for myself. So it doesn’t really matter if I read a load of short books or just a few really long ones I can still see how my reading is doing 🙂

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    • I don’t compare my reading to others either, I just like to see how I’m doing. I watch a lot of BookTube for recommendations though so I get excited when people say they’ve read loads but then when I find out they are graphic novels I find it really disappointing

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  5. Some peeps find it hard to count graphic novels and comics as part of their read books and instead track pages read rather than individual books. I include graphic novels n comics in my total read books, but whenever I highlight that total read number in a post, I say which were books, comics, or illustrated children’s books. Sure the latter two tend to mostly consist of pictures, but to me, it’s still reading. I’m not just looking at the illustrations n admiring how beautiful they are. I am following a story n reading gestures, body language, facial expressions, n context clues in those pictures. I could quickly look through comics n illustrated books, but I think I’d miss loads if I did so. Instead, I sometimes spend as much time reading those items as I would on a short book. I take my time with them. And because they are so short or quick to get through, I sometimes reread them as soon as I’m done or shortly thereafter in order to write a decent review on them. But I don’t include those rereads in my total books read number.
    But basically, it all depends on the person. What do they include in their read total and does comics n times carry equal weight when considering how many books have been read.

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  6. I definitely think graphic novels and comics count as media that we read. The reason we watch movies is that they are in video format, and art in a gallery is hanging on a wall. Graphic novels are in book format, on pages, which is why we read them. I do get your point, but I think they still definitely count as books. And saying that counting them is unfair because the person ends up having read loads kind of turns reading into a competition, about who reads the most and what counts as reading, which I find a bit sad. But it’s an interesting idea for a post!

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