How Little We Read!

As part of the migration from my old Kindle to its Touchy successor, I had the opportunity to look over all the books I’ve read on the old Kindle for the 2+ years that I own it. More precisely, I had the opportunity to count how many books that make.

What would you guess the final tally to be? Lest you now lowball me and I take terrible umbrage, let me quickly tell you what it is: 50.  Fifty books that I read in their entirety over a 2-year period. Isn’t that such a small, puny number? Granted, these aren’t all the books I’ve read during that time. I also read some books in print format; I started a lot of books that I didn’t finish; I read things other than books; my ego says I must be under counting in other ways . . . etc. To take these factors into account, let me inflate that number, 50, a bit and use the working assumption that I’ve read roughly 100 books in the last two years.

Now that’s a reading rate of about a book a week — rather decent, especially when I consider the fact that the actual reading is done in a more episodic manner than the smooth average suggests. How then do I reconcile a rather clip pace of reading with a shamefully small number of books read?

Perhaps it’s all a matter of scale: the number of books we want to read dwarfs the number we’ve read; the amount of information we retain after reading pales in comparison to the total information content of the book; the time we devote to reading competes with a myriad of other activities, resulting in inevitable reader’s regret; the books that we’ve read, due to the massive corpus of reading available for reading, overlap poorly with the books that others have read, thus making us constantly wish that we’ve perused things other than what we have; recommendations for reading, whether casual & from friends/colleagues/bosses or formal & from the New York Times/New York Review of Books/NPR, abound, leaving us feeling that we’ve come up short.

Such is the reading life — celebrate or pout as you’d like, at least until we find a way to download our consciousness into a robot and extend our reading indefinitely.

Marginally non-gratuitous picture!

(Image from Wikipedia.)

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