Salthills, Clitheroe. UK
Three thousand reasons to choose your reading carefully
The realisation that I’m a third of the way through all the books I can ever
has prompted me to take a stiffer line on those I bother with
According to the book review website Goodreads I recently finished reading my 1,000th book.
They didn’t notify me of this, there’s no gold star on my profile and my book collection did not break into spontaneous applause (Harry Potter high-fiving Humbert Humbert, the Mitford sisters dancing
a celebratory can-can). But I knew the second I finished reading my 1,000th book
because I have been watching this day creep closer for four years.
Four years of diligently maintaining my Goodreads account, including two afternoons
carefully uploading every book I’d read since childhood. Give or take a few Where’s Wally? books
I can be fairly sure that We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie saw me reach
this milestone. Assuming I live into my 90s (which my penchant for pasties and panic attacks suggests is unlikely), I will read just over 3,000 books in my lifetime
– which doesn’t seem like an especially high number.
One reason I’d been eyeing up my 1,000th book so apprehensively is that it forces me to once again confront the fact that I don’t like a lot of the books I read. Out of the 1,000, I only enjoyed about 700. The other 300 were books I felt I had to read; classics that everyone told me
I was a fool to miss, awkward recommendations from people who thought that as a feminist
I love to read about rape, GCSE curriculum titles and a misguided attempt to appreciate Tom Wolfe. Another reason I feel a bit queasy about that 1,000th book is that a few years ago my Aunt Liz
was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She was 50 years old. When my phone rang with the news,
I was waiting for a light to change at a busy road. When I looked down at the book in my hand,
my thumb still marking the page, I realised how much Liz still had left to do.
Her wedding would have to be brought forward, goodbyes would be said,
a funeral would be planned. She would probably never read another book.
Finding out what the last book Liz read was is one of those questions I’ve never been able to ask. Instead, in the months leading up to her death I read constantly, three, four, five books at a time. Words were a way to push what was happening out of my head, and two years later I realised
I was a couple of books off my 1,000th. As Liz’s death had kick started a period of compulsive reading, I wanted the book to be relevant to her, something that would somehow make up for
all the books she would never read. Obviously no one book would ever manage that
(although for my activist aunt, Adichie’s We Should All Be Feminists comes closer than most)
but the idea of a worthy book has stayed with me.
But what is a worthwhile read? If we can calculate how many books we will read in an uninterrupted lifetime, at what point should we draw the line? Life is short and books are long. We don’t get to read many of them and I’m starting to realise that some books don’t deserve to be among
my theoretical 3,000. Life is too short for Martin Amis. Life is too short for Ayn Rand. Life is too short for 1,000-plus pages of Infinite Jest and life is too short to give Philip Roth another chance.
I’m beginning to suspect that life might be too short for Virginia Woolf and John Updike.
I’m undecided on whether life is long enough for George Eliot, but it’s definitely too short
to miss out on Octavia Butler’s work because of being busy trying to like Joseph Heller.
The books that deserve a place among my remaining 2,000 reads are those with an idea that excites me. I’m making room for novels like Blonde Roots by Bernardine Evaristo, Sirius by Olaf Stapledon, The City and the City by China Miéville, Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor, We Were Liars by E Lockhart,
The Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane and The Suicide Club by Robert Louis Stevenson.
I’m going to spend more time reading authors I enjoy and relate to, either because of their use
of language (Jackie Kay, Toni Morrison, Monique Roffey, Andrea Levy and Orhan Pamuk)
or their subject matter (Jenni Fagan, Jhumpa Lahiri, HG Wells and Kazuo Ishiguro).
In short; I’m going to demand more from the books I read.
I’ve got 2,000 books left to read, at best, and I intend to be ruthless in choosing them.
Turbo Charged Reading: Read more>>>Read fast>>>Remember more>>>Years later
Contact M’reen at: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can TCR music, poetry or self development material for internal knowing.
I can Turbo Charge Read a novel 6-7 times faster and remember what I’ve read.
I can TCR an instructional/academic book around 20 times faster and remember what I’ve read.
Introduction to Turbo Charged Reading YouTube
A practical overview of Turbo Charged Reading YouTube
How to choose a book. A Turbo Charged Reading YouTube
Emotions when Turbo Charged Reading YouTube
Advanced Reading Skills Perhaps you’d like to join my FaceBook group ?
Perhaps you’d like to check out my sister blogs:
www.innermindworking.blogspot.com gives many ways for you to work with the stresses of life
www.ourinnerminds.blogspot.com which takes advantage of the experience and expertise of others.
www.happyartaccidents.blogspot.com just for fun.
To quote the Dr Seuss himself, “The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn; the more places you'll go.”