From the kitchen, without much interest: "No idea."
"They'd always ask it with the kind of voice people use in the presence of large sculptures in museums. They'd ask me, 'Have you read all these books?'" He waited again, but Billy Kinetta was not playing the game. "Well, young fella, after a while the same dumb question gets asked a million times, you get sorta snappish about it. And it came to annoy me more than a little bit. Till I finally figured out the right answer.
"And you know what that answer was? Go ahead, take a guess." Billy appeared in the kitchenette doorway.
"I suppose you told them you'd read a lot of them but not all of them."
Gaspar waved the guess away with a flapping hand. "Now what good would that have done? They wouldn't know they'd asked a dumb question, but I didn't want to insult them, either. So when they'd ask if I'd read all those books, I'd say, 'Hell, no. Who wants a library full of books you've already read?'"
“The writer Umberto Eco belongs to that small class of scholars who are encyclopedic, insightful, and non dull. He is the owner of a large personal library (containing thirty thousand books), and separates visitors into two categories: those who react with 'Wow! Signore professore dottore Eco, what a library you have! How many of these books have you read?' and the others - a very small minority - who get the point that a private library is not an ego-boosting appendage but a research tool. Read books are far less valuable than unread ones. The library should contain as much of what you do not know as your financial means, mortgage rates, and the currently tight read-estate market allows you to put there. You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menacingly. Indeed, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books. Let us call this collection of unread books an antilibrary.”
The mechanics work something like this:
- its easier to read a book you're motivated to read
- you're not sure what you will be motivated to read until after you've finished your current book(s)
- so, buy books you might be interested in advance, they'll be there and ready when the motivation hits
I buy books in theme areas: pragmatism, biographies of creative people, mythology, etc. That makes a smooth transition from one book to the next easy. You tend to read your current book with an eye to what's coming up on your shelf this way.
Also consider that you don't always want to read dense books. So having more books on hand helps you regain motivation in the down times by having easier stuff on hand. Jonathan franzen had a really nice essay on this about how pulp mystery novels kept him sane.
It helps that I have a used bookstore nearby where I can buy books for a dollar or so. But, anyway, there's so much cheap stuff on amazon that anyone can apply this approach without breaking the bank.
Hope this helps other folks read more. Reading has helped my coding and business more than any other habit.
I have maybe half of them scanned in. It's marvelous that I can carry this library with me on a trip, as it's about 75G.
(About $1,200 for anyone else curious.)
In fact, the Kindle has the best solution for this ever - every time I come across a book I want to read, I simply go to Amazon and click "Send Sample to Kindle". Then, I have a sample of the book on my Kindle.
Whenever I decide I need to read a new book, I open the Kindle and choose from the hundreds of samples that are there. If I like it, I also buy it.
This way, I don't have to pay so much money on books that I'll never read, but I still have them available for whenever I do get need to read a new book. Best of both worlds.
I had the book Future Perfect in hardcover sitting on my shelf for 3 months. I loaded it in QR and because the app tells you how long it will take at your WPM pace to finish that chapter and the book, I know I will finish this chapter in 6:53 and the book in 1:50:49. It makes books much less intimidating and I usually do 15-30 minute sessions. You don't get bored or distracted because the words are being pushed in front of you. It's amazing.
I've never read more books in a shorter time with this system.
I think I will write a full post on my system. Also protip: Get the audio if available and listen to that when you can't read.
Sadly, I don't think I've completed a book this year, only started more. When do people find the time? I drive, so the daily commute is out unless I turn to audiobooks. I have a young child, so the mornings and any time before 7pm are gone. Cooking and cleaning chew up a bit more time in the evening and I'm increasingly keen to get to sleep earlier than past years because the cat will wake me at 4-5am and then my son from about 6am. Not to mention social engagements and then weekends given to gardening, fixes around the house, etc. I don't really watch much TV, so there's little time to regain there.
I am interested in all the books in-progress and don't want to abandon any, so Fogus' tips don't help. I know someone who gets through audiobooks faster by playing at 1.5 speed, so maybe that would help...
Reading of people who get through a book every day or even a book a week absolutely amazes me.
That being said, and more related to the source post, it looks doable. SICP really isn't all that scary. I finally read it last year, and both enjoyed it massively and got through it relatively quickly. Expecting yourself to do _all_ of the exercises would change this perspective, of course. Then it would be fairly scary, I guess.
I got a chuckle seeing volumes from The Art of Computer Programming in a pile before I realized they were in his pile to "skim through so I know what is in them so I can use them more effectively." Reading through those in detail in a year would be surprising, not to mention the other books in the post.
Good luck! Hope I see your follow up post at years end with how many you actually read. Let me add a vote for "Ruby Under a Microscope," I read it shortly after it came out and enjoyed it very much.
It takes a relatively long time to read a book, so it's worth it to me to get the one I want to read most, and pay for it if I have to.
I have a huge library of books (and I have read many of them), and still find pressing topics I need to know which are not covered by any of the books I have (and neither seemingly by the Internet at least till I discover some relevant keywords).
An additional thing is that I have read through the introductions of a lot more books, and that by itself gives a first understanding of the subject.
"We can buy books but we can't buy the time to read them."
I currently have to two books to finish. One is Ulysses. Reading that book is really more like a project. Tried chewing through the first chapter, everything went over my head. Its nearly unreadable. I guess I need a guide book along with it.
Even the "Work Shelf", which contains the most specific books, probably won't go out of date.
On the upside, I do manage to get through all of the books related to my field, so the stack mostly contains the remaining works of Kierkegaard that I've missed, the complete works of William Blake, Russian literature (translated), mathematics texts, and small stack of untranslated Japanese novels.
Some of this I'm saving for my "cargo freighter around the world" trip.
Do they still have tramp steamers?
I pick it up every now and then to see if I can get further than before.
Then I had a to-read shelf.
and then... and then...
Ended up with about two and a half 6 foot bookshelves full of stuff I hadn't read. Which is currently sitting in storage.
For the last few years I've had the rule that I don't buy a book until the point that I'm going to start reading it. Which the world of digital books has obviously made a lot easier.
Made my life simpler - I'd recommend it ;-)
My 2014 goal is 10K pages read not including technical or maths. This year I will keep accurate records and keep a burn down chart to make sure I reach my goal. Last year I had quickly fallen behind and keep poor records (a read stack pushed around by a young child.)
I'm not only willing, I'm eager to give up on a book I don't either enjoy or find interesting. But I know a surprising number of people who force themselves to finish any book that they start.
(And I wasn't commenting on Black Swan, just on the concept of not finishing a book. I'm unfamiliar with Black Swan.)
I won't call it a resolution, but I will read through as many as I can this year (there are a lot)