Friday, January 29, 2016

Bringing My #Amreading List Down to 100

After working on it for over a year, I've finally done it: Brought my "to read" list on Goodreads down to 100 books.

"But Forrest," you say, "why do you suck and why are you such a loser that you limit your to-read list? You loser . . . who sucks."

There are several reasons. Here are a few.

  1. Someday, I will die. I don't want to leave an overly long "to-read" list behind. It's just rude.
  2. My list serves, simultaneously, as a long-term buy list and a short-term "get this from the library or buy it on the cheap and read it soonish, like within the next three years or so". Some of those long-term buy books are very, very expensive, and I really do want to own a copy. So if my list is filled with a plethora of books I might want to own, I could be spending money on them, rather than saving up to buy the books I know I want to own.
  3. Which brings me to the next point: Every book is a new, undiscovered adventure, but I've been lost in the wilderness (seriously, truly lost, where I-might-not-make-it-back-alive kind of lost) a couple of times and know the value of a good map. I consider book reviews as maps by those who have gone before me. Some of these people I trust very much, but everyone makes mistakes and everyone has differing tastes. So I like to read from a variety of "maps" (i.e., reviews) in order to make a well-informed decision about what I am going to read and what I'm going to bypass. Keeping my list to 100 books forces the issue. If I think I want to read a book, that means I might have to jettison one from my list to keep it under 100 books. Which one do I really want to read the most . . . really?
  4. I write. A lot. Novels, short stories, book reviews, and role-playing game supplements. I love writing. And I love reading. But I don't have time to do as much of both as I'd like. And reading is so much easier than writing that I need to limit myself with the amount of reading I do.
  5. Just because a book didn't make the list this time around doesn't mean it will not make it on the list down the road. There are a lot of books floating around on Goodreads. If a previously-jettisoned book (jettisoned from my once huge to-read list) finds its way back into my feed and I am taken in by it again, then maybe I should reconsider it. Again, though, limiting the list makes me really have to think about it.
  6. I physically own about 20 of the books on my list at any given time. I'm usually reading two or three books. I'm hoping that keeping the list to 100 forces a little better "burn rate" of reading and reviewing. Again, if I want to free up space on my list, the best way to do that is to read the books I already have physically in hand. Besides, I have a practical side that hates to keep things around that I'm not using. In some ways, I'm kind of an anti-hoarder.
  7. Which brings me to my last point: In some ways, I'm kind of an anti-hoarder. I live in a small house quite intentionally. I'm forced to only keep those things that are essential. My wardrobe is small, but unique and, for the most part, well made. If I had my druthers, for example, most of my shoes would be doc martens. Alas, I only have two pair now. Those suckers are expensive. But they are beautiful and comfortable and they last forever. Shouldn't my book collection be the same, physically and virtually? Why live a lie?
There you have it. I know many readers who would consider me a spartan tightwad who hates books. They couldn't be further from the truth. I LOVE books, but I have an addictive personality, too. I could spend all my money and time on books and just bury myself in them, but I've tried that before and I just wasn't happy. Give me the best of the best and let the others fade away. My self-esteem isn't reliant on being attached to stuff, not even books. Besides, I have one of the best public library systems and one of the best university library systems in the world in my backyard here in Madison, Wisconsin. You can't ask for much more than that. Well, you can, but you might be greedy and ungrateful. I don't have time for greed. Leave that to the politicians. I'll be content with being content.

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