I scream sometimes in the shower. “So many good books, so little time to read them!” I cry out, with nothing to hear my pain but the falling water. I bang my head against the hard tiles in an attempt to stop the pain, but it fails. It doesn’t help that I’m a slow reader. The ever expanding pile of books that I want to read absolutely drives me crazy, and doesn’t even count magazines, graphic novels, and my weekly comics. On one hand, it’s a blessing to have so many good books that are worth my time, and on the other it’s a curse that I’m certain is designed by some evil being to drive me completely insane. The Reading List of Doom as I like to call it has presented me with a particularly stubborn challenge to overcome.
My indecision can sometimes lead to another option: reading multiple books at once. There are times where this system does work; however, it usually ends up meaning that I make less progress on each book than I otherwise would. My typical method in this case is to read one book at work during lunch and then read the other at night in bed. While in theory this would allow me to make progress on both, it rarely works out that way. The only time that reading more than one book at a time is a good idea is when I get fatigued with one, but don’t just want to abandon it half way through. For instance, right now I’m working my way through Game of Thrones but since I’ve seen the show and know what happens, I’m a little tired of it. George R. R. Martin’s writing is wonderful and reading the book has added quite a bit to my love of the world he has created, but it’s 800 pages of story I already know, after all. I’m over 500 pages in and I don’t want to give up, especially since there are four more books for me to read. So instead I’ve put down Game of Thrones and picked up The Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph by T.E. Lawrence. It’s a nice change of pace and it relieves my fatigue. Best of all it moves the list forward.
In my family there is no such thing as too many books. In fact such a statement is tantamount to heresy. My father collects military history books and has several thousand volumes, so I grew up with stack and piles all around the house that formed as we ran out of bookshelf space. Sadly, in my case, there are few books I actually collect simply for the sake of having a library available on a particular subject. Most of my reading is whatever strikes my fancy and is usually not worth anything. I use this fact to justify not buying books to add to my stash, since the content isn’t particularly valuable, but I also hate it.
As a kid this was all much less of a problem as I was a much faster reader. Somewhere along the way I lost that talent and I sorely miss it. One summer I plowed through Airframe in 5 hours. I was averaging just over 100 pages an hour! Now I’m lucky to get through 30 in the same time. I wish I had the skill to push through my reading list at a rate such that I have to buy new books to keep up. One of my good friends has that ability and I am so jealous. He has to look hard to find new books he wants to read, while the Reading List of Doom is rapidly approaching the height of a 12 year old.
In the end, I know that the Reading List of Doom is not the worst thing that can happen to me. I am fortunate that I enjoy reading and that I live in a place that embraces free speech and allows me to read whatever I please. Reading provides nourishment for my hunger for knowledge. I have a wide variety of interests and it’s always nice to find a book that helps to increase my level of knowledge regarding a particular topic, even if that book may be stuck at the bottom of the reading list for a while. Fear not, book-on-the-bottom-of-the-pile, soon enough you will have new brethren to join you while you wait to share your wonderful content with me.