More thoughts on reading

I’m between books right now. That can be a scary place to be, as it requires a decision to be made. What’s next on the reading agenda. That’s right. I have an “agenda”. I just don’t  know what it is.

I was talking to a friend recently about what he is reading. He really likes post-apocalyptic science fiction, and by now he’s probably kind of a scholar in that area. He was wanted to branch out, and he really likes “hard” science fiction. I recommended Red Mars, by Kim Stanley Robinson. Great book about the colonization and efforts to terraform Mars. Complex, full of really cool stuff.

It’s part of a trilogy, actually. I loved Red Mars. I got about halfway through book two, Green Mars, and just sort of lost interest. They are pretty long books.

I have very little ability to stick with long works of fiction, and I am kind of just done with series of fiction. I’ll still read short works of fiction, but I just can’t sink that much time into reading stuff that isn’t “real” anymore (I’m not counting comics here). In the late 80s I read this very long series of novels called the Wild Cards novels, about superbeings coming into being on Earth due to an alien virus. In the early 90s I read a lot of books based on Dungeon’s and Dragons. I spent a lot of time reading that stuff. It was enjoyable at the time, but I can barely remember anything about them. I turn 50 this year so I don’t have lots of time left. I can’t spend my remaining reading time on shit like that.

Reading takes a lot of time. I think most people don’t really read much because of the time involved. They say that people don’t read so much anymore. I see “studies” on the interwebs that say a huge percentage of Americans never read a book after graduating from high school or college. A couple of observations on this…first, I find this hard to believe, given the insane number of books produced every year. Who is reading these books? Cats? Ghosts? I’m not sure I buy it, even though I hold the collective intellect of our country in very low regard (see Fast & Furious movie series, Glenn Beck, and TMZ). Second, there are just a lot more entertainment choices these days. People can get their escapism with the internet, cable TV, movies, sports, blah blah blah. The book has a lot more competition than it did years ago.

As I think about this, I don’t think I even really buy the notion that Americans read more in the past. I don’t believe it. I think people are pretty much the same as they’ve always been.

Ughhh…I’m losing my focus…

I was thinking the other day about the potential number of books I can read in the rest of my life. Realistically. Not in Bob’s Speed Reading Fantasy World.  I usually read about 15 books a year. I am trying to get 25 in this year. 25 good ones. I’m about to turn 50. Let’s assume a rosy outlook and say I’ll live to 75. I’d like to live longer than that, but who knows. Further, let’s assume that in the last year of life you feel like shit and don’t feel like reading at all. So that gives me 24 years of reading. Further, let’s assume I keep reading at about the same rate — 15 books a year. That is 360 books. That’s it. That’s all. That doesn’t seem like very many books. I’m an educated person. Good grief! What’s really sad is that according to my account, in which I have counted every book I’ve ever read (that I can remember, and I think I remember most of them), I’ve read as of this very moment 232 books. Damn. That’s just insanely sad. So I’m looking at a lifetime total reading of less than 600 books read.

I gotta do better than that.

My friend Jim, who is roughly the same age as me, reads about 100 books a year. Sometimes less, sometimes more. 100 is about his average. Clearly he reads a lot faster than me, but he also puts a lot of time into it. Assuming he also has 24 years of reading left, that is 2400 books (in addition to the thousands he’s already read). That’s still not really that much.

I will stick with 15-25 per year.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.