The Guardian ran an article that I have written several times on my blog. Multiple the average number of books you read in a year, times the number of years you think you’ve got left to live, and that gives you how many books you have left to read in your lifetime. I figure I have 500-1,000. I already own over a 1,000 unread books, and I buy new ones at the rate maybe 5 a week. So, I’m buying another 2,500-5,000 books before I die, even though I’ll only read 500-1,000 more books.
This brings up all kinds of problems, beyond the obvious stupidity of buying books that I’ll never read. The math is simple! I read one book a week, and I buy five? Could I be any more stupid?
Each week I read a book—and that week might actually be my last week on Earth. Or it might be one of a 1,000 weeks I might have left. Either way, should I ever read a so-so book? Or even a merely very good book? I’m pretty sure there are way more than 1,000 excellent books out there that I haven’t read. So, each week, should I think to myself, “Hey, let’s pick a mediocre book and read it this week!”
Everyone loves to play that game – “What one book would you take to a deserted island?” Isn’t that how we should be think every time we pick up a book to read? Read every book as if it was our last?
I read one book a week. I should always think to myself that this week could be my last. Shouldn’t the book I pick to read be one that’s at least deserted island worthy?
It’s not like we’re short on great books.
I should do two things. First, don’t buy books until I’m ready to read them. Second, don’t read anything less than a great book.
JWH – 6/1/14
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