This is a repost of an old post of mine from Books Worth Reading. I think about it every time I hear someone say that they can’t or shouldn’t put down a book they’ve started reading, despite not enjoying it.
Let’s say, just for the sake of argument, that you or I read, on average, 50 books a year. This is based on reading approximately one book per week, with a two-week vacation (to make the math easier). I know many people read a lot more than this, but most people read less, and I think it is a reasonable number. At least, it is fairly true of me.
Now, also for the sake of argument, let’s estimate that we will all live to be 95 years old, and we will retain our eyesight and mental faculties until our last days. Omitting the first 5 years of life, when we did not know how to read, that gives us approximately 90 years of reading time in a lifetime.
So, averaging 50 books a year for 90 years means that most of us will read around 4,500 books over the course of our life.
In 2006 (the latest year for which I could find data), 291,920 books were published in the United States alone. It would take almost 65 of us, reading our entire lives, just to read all of those books. And that’s what was published in just one year.
I don’t know about you, but if I am going to be able to read only the tiniest fraction of all the books that are out there, I want them to be good books. Which means I’m not going to feel guilty again about putting a book down after page 100, or page 10, or paragraph 10, or even word 10.
Life’s too short to read bad books.