Feeling a little anxious to share my thoughts but also very excited, I decided to dive into a new type of blog posts that mainly involve me making a point or a conversation on a bookish topic. Specifically, in this first of – hopefully – more to come posts, I’d like to talk about a revelation that dawned on me a few days ago and which has positively changed my life as a reader.
This revelation came to me after stumbling upon this image which basically says that:
If, hypothetically, you could read 1 book each week of your life for 75 years, you will have read a total of …….. books.
Now, think about this…Without doing any math and without approaching this little equation in a methodical manner, how many books would you expect to have completed in this period of time?
Since asking myself and other people who are not myself, I gathered a small sample that agreed on a number larger than 35.000 books. Does that sound about right to you?
Let me keep you on hold for a few more lines here to add that, as a reader, I consider myself reading approximately one book per week, making this hypothesis very relatable to my reading routine. But here is the shocking – for me – truth. In the span of 75 years, assuming you read one book per week, you will have completed 3.900 books!
So, a little more than a year ago, I discovered Goodreads, a website I’m sure many of you readers and non-readers have heard of or are part of. In this lovely website, I currently have a list where I collect titles of books I want to read. Now, I’m not a very picky reader. If I see something and it sounds cool, has a beautiful cover or someone that I appreciate their opinion of it (or I don’t) talks about it, I add it on my to-read list. After discovering the magnificent community of BookTube and the wonderful book blogs that are out there you can easily understand how this situation quickly went out of hand! In my to-read “shelf” – as Goodreads names the lists – there are currently exactly 2409 titles of books I have at some point in my life wanted to read. 2049 books! And that number was created in only one year of usage of the website. The next question that I would be asking is: Well, Lisa, how many books have you read so far in your life? I will tell you how many! According to Goodreads and with probably missing a few books from my “read shelf” (do you want to exaggerate? Let’s say 50! I’ve missed 50 books that I have actually read but are not catalogued on the website) I have read a magical total of 216 books in my lifetime!
Do you see where I’m going with this?
I am never going to read all the books I want to read if I keep adding 1000 books to my list every year. It’s just impossible! That’s when I started to really think about my to-read shelf and the way I’ve been adding books to it.
In today’s book marketing business, the most popular genres are YA and fantasy in that order. Young Adult books receive a lot of attention, a lot of hype and as a result we get exposed to them very often. So when I first started my blog I began reviewing books such as Cinder by Marissa Meyer, The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. I figured, if everyone’s reading it, I should read them! If there’s so much buzz about Cinder then that’s what I should buy next! Why is everyone so freaking excited about Cinder. Then I read Cinder and the Peculiar Children etc….and I didn’t really like them..
I mean, they were…mediocre books in my eyes! At this point I want to explain two things. First of all, all the opinions on books and everything else stated here are my subjective views and I do not mean to imply that Cinder or any other book I just mentioned are not good books, they are just not what I like to read as a reader. Second, hyped books are not a bad thing. Hyped books are just…a thing. Some books that are hyped we will like – in my case, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr is such an example – and other hyped books we will not like – as in my personal case with Cinder.
So then I said to myself: Wait a minute..why do I spend money and precious time on reading books that I know I won’t appreciate much when there are other books out there that I’ve always wanted to read? I’ve always wanted to read let’s say 1984 by George Orwell but every time I go to a store I’m thinking: Nah, it’s going to be there next time I’m here too, so I will get it another time. Instead I’m going for a new fancy release by a book I was repeatedly exposed to on BookTube or Twitter or whatever.
This has to stop for me! From now on my goal has become to spend money and time reading books that I really, really want to read and not books that I’m really, really curious about. I don’t care if a book is hyped or not, if I’ve heard about it recently or many months ago, the question to myself has to be If you only had a limited number of books to read, would this book be sitting in one of the spots?
Above you see four books that I consciously bought knowing I would most probably enjoy them. I love big, fat complex stories that you spend hours and hours with while building a good muscle on both arms by lifting and holding them. I deeply enjoy fantasy, science fiction and contemporary/literary fiction. From now on I want to buy books that I believe will be rated with at least 3.5 stars by me no matter what anybody else has rated them with. From now on, every book that I chose to have will be a story that I truly want to get into so by the time that I do hopefully get to my 3900 books, I will have no regrets or missing opportunities.
So what do you think about the books that we buy and the reasons we buy them? Do you also spend money on books that you are not 100% sure you want to get into but mainly bought because everyone was talking about them? Or do you have a very strict buying policy to guide your purchases?
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5 Comments Add yours
I have the exact same problem and I gave it the exact same “solution”: less easy YA that are only ok-ish. Spent time only in books that I know are good. Of course I won’t always like them, but there is a bigger chance I will. Easy YA will be kept for when I travel or a busy period in my life. Btw, these dour books are also on my list (I have bought A better life and Seveneves), I am waiting for your reviews 🙂
Exactly! And it’ s not just YA that is an “issue” for me personally. Books that I see all over or books with pretty covers no matter what the genre have made me buy them on fake excitement. But since you do occassionally enjoy YA you should definitely go for it when reading something light suits your mood 🙂 I’m also looking forward to your thoughts on these two monsters!
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Completely agree. Many bestsellers are mediocre. I enjoy discovering relatively unknown books that truly speak to me. Book review blogs are important; thanks to them readers discover hidden gems that didn’t get the media exposure they deserved. Goodreads is very useful too for the same reason.
Yes it’s true that many bestsellers are mediocre and maybe that’s because it’s so easy, in some ways, for a book to become a bestseller. I think one way of going about and finding books that might appeal to oneself is exploring some literary awards, for example for me the Pulitzer winners usually work. Another way is, as you said above and I agree, through blog / Goodreads / BookTube reviews. But again, each reader has to find other readers/reviewers whose bookish opinions usually match his or her own. There are so many reviewers who give 4 and 5 stars to popular titles and unfortunately fewer readers who review less popular genres and books, so discovering great gems requires some digging!