August 5, 2010

Reality checks, addictions, and other down-to-earth things

Hi, I'm Rebecca, and I'm addicted to book lists.

There. I said it. I am so very completely addicted to book lists. (To other kinds of lists too, but that's a story for another time.) I love it when the next "Top 10/50/100" list is posted. I greedily suck up other bloggers' lists of favorite characters, favorite romances, favorite dogs in books... I spent a scary amount of time on Goodreads after I'd gotten my account just running around in the lists. Best fairy tales, best kick-ass heroines, best travel memoirs - I had to read them all. So every book I heard about that struck that "Hey, maybe I'm interested" chord in my head got thrown on the list. Just to keep track of them, right?

The result? My Goodreads account reads like this: Books read: 935. Books currently-reading: 5. Books to-read: 3104.

Let's repeat that, shall we? 3104!

So the average American (according to some poll somewhere) reads around seven books a year. Obviously I am not average in that regard - neither are any of you readers, probably, since you're paying attention to book bloggers. I probably read (this is a guesstimate, people, based on my Goodreads account and observed reading behavior) around 275 books a year. Which is a lot, even for a person who reads a lot. But still, that means that if I took my list and decided to power through it, without adding a single book in the process, it would take me over eleven years to finish.

This is where the reality check department comes in. Because there is no way I will ever get through my to-read list. Especially when (inevitably) I add new releases to my list, discover books I've never heard of, and get cool recommendations from people like you. It's time I resigned myself to this fact: I am never going to read all the books in the world. I am never even going to read all the books I am interested in.

It's depressing, this realization, and probably something I should have accepted a long time ago. But I was the girl who, in middle school, decided she'd read the entire middle school library. And I did. I started at A and zipped along to Z. Granted, this was a school of 120 girls (my graduating class was 38), and the library was built to scale in a room which was probably 7' by 7'. And I tended to skip select titles, including but not limited to the Gossip Girls series (after the first 25 pages) and all Lurlene McDaniel tomes. But I did it. That was probably where my bizarre and unrealistic reading expectations really got their start.

Why am I pondering this now? Well, it's probably because I'll be heading back home in a few days, ready to roll up my sleeves and really start job hunting. And then start a real job, the first actual, full time, salaried position of my career. And when that happens, my time spent reading will get cut. It's inevitable. Which means it'll take me even longer to read all of those books...

Sigh. It's a cruel, cruel world when you can't read all the books you want to. But I'm coping, and I hope you are too. My method? Just read. Read as much and as widely and as entertainingly as you can, and don't think about the to-read list unless you're picking which book to read next. (Also, don't waste your time on books that you don't like. Allow yourself to put a book down - there are too many books in the world that are infinitely more deserving.) At the end of all things, my tombstone is going to look like this: She read widely, and well.

Anyway, Happy August. I'll be doing a July wrap-up in a few days. Probably earlier if I can think of a clever title.

3 comments:

  1. Hi Rebecca--I'm sure you don't need another book to read--but this you might like to at least check out. I just completed On Gratitude which is the adventures of a schizophrenic in recovery from nicotine. This related topic you might enjoy deals with the emotional effects and works with beliefs about nicotine in the 4th year of recovery. Delightful. To find out more visit my website at psyche1902.com. From there on pages 1 and 2 you will get a little slideshow, the release announcement for the book and some other interesting things to see. True story. Heal Responsibly, Jean Manthei, MA, LPC, CACIII

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  2. I have a huge list of books to read too. They're not on Good Reads but I have a book journal with them all written down and I keep discovering new ones! The thing is, I'm also a slow reader! Oh my...

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  3. Book journals are great! I've been thinking on and off about doing one, mostly because I'm a little paranoid that someday the internet will crash and I will lose all of my data. (I should probably get over that, since the internet is kind of too important to crash by now.) My main problem is that I add too fast to keep up on paper!

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