Can anyone explain to me why several book review sites are called "what I have been reading" when they describe books the reviewer has read? why aren't they called "what I have read"?

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    Without digging into the exact grammar (maybe someone else can do that in a proper answer), the construction "have been reading" implies a sense of immediacy, meaning that the blogger is writing about things that they have read recently. "What I have read" has a more comprehensive feeling, and might be a discussion of everything the blogger has read over a period of many years. Apr 9, 2018 at 19:05
  • Anouk, I really think you keep asking the same questions over and over with only the slightest of variations. We have been over this before.
    – Lambie
    Apr 9, 2018 at 21:33
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    That is because I still don't fully understand. You don't have to answer my questions if you don't want to. It is a forum for English Learners after all.
    – anouk
    Apr 10, 2018 at 15:53

1 Answer 1


You've tagged the question present-perfect and present-perfect-progressive so I assume you know the definitions.

"what I have been reading"

This is present perfect continuous or progressive and suggests that something is unfinished.

"what I have read"?

This is the present perfect simple and indicates an activity that has finished.

In your example

For book reviews, the use of present perfect continuous (I have been reading), will indicate "recently read books". This technically means "The book that I have been reading in the last few days and have not finished". However, this opinion can be project to last week. Today I have finished a book but last week I was still reading it, so it does still qualify as a book that "I have been reading" if spoken about from the time when I had not finished it. Hence recently read books.

For book reviews, the use of present perfect simple (I have read), would say span your lifetime. For example, the best urban fantasy book that I ever read. The best series that I read (could have been 30 years ago).

Now in this context, this is fairly flexible, there is no cut off time per say. For example I could say "books that I was reading as a teenager", imagining myself back there. Or I could say "Books that I read as a teenager", speaking from today and looking back. But generally speaking "have read" indicates a finality, in the past and long finished, but "have been reading" indicates unfinished, implying recent past.

  • I am asking because those sites review books the reader has finished, so they can describe what it's about. One is called "what I`ve been reading ", this blog helps me to keep track of the books I've read. That is why I am confused. The present perfect continuous is also used for actions recently finished, not just continuing actions.
    – anouk
    Apr 10, 2018 at 15:58
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    That's what I meant by "point in time". For example, say I finished a book last Sunday. I can say "recently (saturday) I have been reading X". Now, it's tuesday and this has book has finished, but if you speak from the point in time of last saturday, you can say that you "have been reading it". Past progressive. Do you see? Apr 10, 2018 at 16:02
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    And additionally, in this context, the differences are really just grammatical. The book review websites will not bother to differentiate between 'finished in the past' and 'unfinished'. Both simply mean 'books I have read' Apr 10, 2018 at 16:03

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