I keep a list of “Books to Read in 2017”, which has already swelled to a wishful thinking level of eighty volumes. Oh, and don’t forget the thirty additional reads that will be assigned throughout the year by my various book clubs.
I love to read because I am eternally seduced by the illusions it provides. The illusion that I are doing something worthwhile. (This is a lie; I am merely lazy and therefore, reading suits me.) The illusion that with every book I tick off I am gaining knowledge and making some sense of the world. (Ha! A lie; no sense can apparently be made of this world.) The illusion that reading makes me more interesting. (This is the biggest lie of all – have you ever seen people’s eyes glaze over when you start telling them about the last book you read?)
But read I will because it cannot be helped. And because a recent article by Emily Temple at Literary Hub has introduced a heart-palpitating sense of urgency to the task. According to her calculations, I have, at best, around 1,200 books left to read before I go to that great library in the sky. The implications are grave and the message is clear; ditch the beach reads and crack the pages of Proust and Joyce, because it is later than I think.
But enough about me. How is the reading clock ticking for you? According to Ms. Temple, the average American reads 12 books a year. If you read less than that, I guess you have an actual life, or perhaps you are just a philistine, and in either case our paths probably don’t cross so you are not reading this post anyway. If you read 50 books a year, she categorizes you as a “voracious” reader; show-offs like my husband (side-eye here to the CE) qualify as “super” readers, those who devour 80 or more books annually. Here are Ms. Temple’s nifty actuarial projections for each category – and if you are over 50, prepare to be humbled:
I can’t decide whether this is just the kick in the pants I needed to up my reading goals or if I should just surrender and download Fifty Shades Darker. One hopeful thought here: Ms. Temple’s projections may be a bit conservative – my 95-year-old mother-in-law reads hours every day and since I’m pretty sure she will live to be 110, all these calculations apply only to the rest of us amateurs.