It’s not so weird to read a book about reading. I mean, it wouldn’t be strange to read a book about any other occupation or hobby. And yet it does sound a little funny to be reading words on a page about the very act of reading. I’ll admit it’s not a page turner, but helpful nonetheless.
As I was reading through Lit! (the second book I’ve read on reading), I did hit a climax point of horror. Maybe it’s only effective on nerds like me but here is the part that caused panic and anxiety:
Imagine you make the wildly ambitious goal of reading one book per week for the next fifty years. Lofty aspiration! If you remain faithful to the task, you will read about 2,600 books. Not bad for five decades of reading.
Now consider how many more books are available for you to read…
Currently, the Library of Congress houses eighteen million books. American publishers add another two hundred thousand titles to this stack each year. This means that at the current publishing rate, ten million new books will be added in the next fifty years. Add together the dusty LOC volumes with the shiny new forthcoming books, and you get a bookshelf-warping total of twenty-eight million books available for an English reader in the next fifty years! But you can only read 2,600—because you are a wildly ambitious book devourer.
These numbers are not scientific, of course. But here is my point: For every one book that you choose to read, you must ignore ten thousand other books simply because you don’t have the time (or money!). Book reading will make you acutely aware of your personal limitations.
So how do we decide what one book to read? Or maybe more importantly, how do we determine which ten thousand books to reject (93,94)?
Horror of horrors!
I’ve recently discussed the importance of reading books (as opposed to merely scanning the internet for everything) in my article Are We Still Thinking? But even if you are a devoted reader, this excerpt makes your limitations painfully clear. It’s like picking a puppy from a litter of ten and watching those other 18 eyes as you walk away with your new beloved. Did you pick the right one? Who knows what this little guy is going to turn out to be, what kind of memories he will make with you, and how destructive he might become. Same thing with a book. They make lasting impressions.
Do you have a plan or purpose in your reading, or is it just like lucky-dipping in the bookstore? What genre do you tend to read the most? How do you determine what books you will read this year? Do you have a summer list? What book has taught you the most? What book do you find yourself actually investing the time to re-read? What is your favorite fiction book of all time? Because clearly time is ticking, and you can only read so many. Share your favorites!
Oh, and obviously the Bible is the most important, best everything! Hopefully that doesn’t even need to be said on this blog! It’s like that question you get asked, “If you could invite any three people to dinner, dead or alive, who would it be?--And you can’t invite Jesus!”