Do this. Take your age and multiply it by how many books you read each year. Now multiply that number by how many years you have remaining until you hit your life expectancy. What’s your number? Whatever your number, that’s how many books you will read before you die.
Want an example? I’m 61. I average reading 10 books a year. According to the Social Security administration 20 years of life remain. When you multiply those 20 years by 10 books a year it reveals my number is 200. I only have 200 books which I can read the rest of my life.
By doing the math I realized two things: I better keep reading and I must be ruthless in the books I read.
So many books…so little time. This startling fact impresses upon me the need to stop reading worthless junk.
Three years ago a friend and I started a reading club. It became so popular that a couple of times the number in the club swelled to three. All we do is pick a title, read, and then share insights. Now, because of geographical necessity, we meet and discuss our reading over the internet.
Here’s a few of the titles we’ve read so far include:
- Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell
- Phantastes by George MacDonald
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
- Moby Dick by Herman Melville
Yesterday the entire club debated which new book to read. I replied I wanted to read a classic less than a 100 years old and less than 12,000 pages! (I’m still having nightmares after plodding through Moby.)
If I only have 200 books remaining why would I waste time on reading light weight junk? I refuse to waste my time reading:
- 50 Shades of Stupid
- Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat?
- Why My Wife Thinks I’m an Idiot
- Walter the Farting Dog
When you decide to read a book, choose the title with extreme care, knowing you can only read so many books in your life. “Spend” each reading choice with as much caution as you exercise in spending a $100 bill.
In the United States over 300,000 books are published every year. Google reports there are now over 130 million books in print. Some of these books are real gems. But the majority of published books are pure junk.
How do you find the diamonds in the coal bin?
- Google phrases like “greatest books of all time.”
- Go to Amazon where you will discover bestseller lists. Then be sure to check the reviews under interesting titles. Look for a high number of reviews and books with at least a 4.5 rating.
- Become active on a site like Goodreads. A site like this contains a treasure chest of information about what books to read.
- Check out Easton Press, a publisher of fine leather bound books, which publishers a “The Greatest Books of All Time List” list.
Read but choose what you read like a miser spending his last dime.
So what’s your number? And what is the one book you really want to read but haven’t?
Randy, I really like this post. Because it illustrates my rule of thumb: only accept recommendations from people you know and trust. Like you.
I have found it nearly impossible to find good advice in the “100 best book lists” and Goodreads is governed by the randomness of strangers who tend to recommend books for all the wrong reasons.
That said, what I exhort is “find good readers” (like you) and ask them what they’re reading, and why. Hard and fast rule: never read any book with Moby in the title.
Life is too short already!
Good advice! Thanks for your perspective.
I prefer to read books that are thought provoking/clever or philosophical. Anything that promotes learning/growth, comprehension, improvement in writing skills.
When I pick a book it needs to be in the context of its purpose: Do I want it to grow me or do I need it to take me away? There are times when I just want to be transported to a different time, a different place….a vacation from my day-to-day responsibilities. And other times a book is an investment in ‘me’….to grow me, challenge me, educate me…..fiction, non-fiction,…something to fill my vessel with ‘miracle grow for the mind and/or soul’. The one rule that applies to either one: …..if it does not have my attention by chapter 3….it goes! Life’s too short…..and there are just too many ‘better’ books out there that will catch my attention by the Table of Contents. :)
Sounds like “Purpose Driven” reading! Thanks for the comments.
Thanks to the discovery of multitasking with audiobooks my potential book count has made a significant jump. I finally (after multiple failed attempts) made it through Moby Dick. And The Brothers Karamazov. I made significant progress in my garden one day while listening just to the excellent sermon on Jonah (and the whale/large fish) towards the beginning of Moby Dick. I realized it was a full-blown sermon, as developed and lengthy as those coming through my Podcast feed. And that was just a side note in the plot! No wonder I never made it through the print book!
I ran across a comment that at the time Moby Dick was published people treasured a book that would last through the long dark months of winter. It made me appreciate it more. If one’s book budget and access to published material allowed for only one book for the entire winter it would be quite disappointing to finish it before Christmas.
I finished Moby about a month ago. Your words help me to not hate it so much. I found it boring and tedious. But it might just take some people an entire winter to get through it!
I often have two or three books at the same time that I am in the process of reading. I have found that I’m in different “moods” and I may be in the mood for a suspense thriller, a classic, a self-help, a humorous, a biography kind of read. Reading needs to be fun and some authors just make reading down right laborious.
Great post, my friend. Whatever one does, find the joy of reading… Be a life long learner and don’t waste time on meaningless books.
I also usually read three books at once. And I’m with you: a lot of it depends on my mood. I can’t remember the days of reading just one book at a time.