Sunday, June 14, 2009

13,505 Books

Lately when I've been in bookstores, I've overheard older people talking about how they're never going to live long enough to read everything. "So Many Books, So Little Time" is more than just a cute t-shirt slogan. And there's a book called 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. Unless I take a speed-reading course and triple my reading speed, I'll be able to read about one book per day. Let's say I live another 37 years. According to Google Calculator, that gives me 13, 505 books I'll be able to read. Obviously, I'm going to have to be more selective in my reading. And maybe that figure isn't even accurate--some books take more than a day to read. It took me at least one summer to read In Search of Lost Time. What about those Russian novels I've never read--how long are they going to take? If they take more than a day to read, that would lower the 13,505 number. And what if I decide to re-read certain books, like In Search of Lost Time? Re-reading would also lower the number of books I'll be able to read for the rest of my life. Maybe I should just make a list right now of the 13,000 or so books I'm going to read and just stick with it. But how long would it take to make a list of 13,000 books? Surely, that would cut into my reading time enough to lower the figure I'd actually be able to read. Maybe one day of planning wouldn't wreck the plan--in fact, it may save it, since I could use that day to decide the best books to read under the circumstances of my mortality. There must be more than 13,000 books that I want to read. That isn't really very many, is it? According to wikipedia, Balzac wrote about one-hundred novels. If I wanted to read all of Balzac, I'd have 12, 905 books left to read. Not very many books at all. And what about days when I can't read a book? I need to start listening to audio books in my car again. And at night, in bed, though they tend to put me to sleep no matter how interesting they are. Maybe if I listen to more audio books I'll be able to finish two books a day, between printed and audio. Would listening to an audio book even count, though? I don't know what to do. I guess I'll have to start testing books, maybe read only the first paragraph and if it's not a five-star book then start something else. I think today I'll work on my list of 13,505 books. I hope working on the list doesn't take much time!

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