An analysis of my reading habits

You all know that I read quite a lot. I keep close track of my reading and so far this year I’ve read 103 books and am working on two more — and I’m actually disappointed by this number, because it’s less than what I had read by this time last year.

Yes, I have no life.

Yet, in spite of all my efforts, eating books like bread, my “to-read” list keeps growing faster than I can read the items on it. It presently has 483 books on it. Going by last year’s reading count, if I focused just on those 483 and did not read a single book that wasn’t on the list, it would take over a year to finish. And of course that’s not going to happen in any case, because I keep adding books. So far this month I have read 13 books — and added 35 to the to-read list.

This evening I started a new book. I had read a previous book by that author and enjoyed it, and I am enjoying this one. I checked online and discovered the author had written several other books which looked interesting. I added three to my to-read list.

Oh, and while I was looking up the author on Goodreads, I glanced over the recent reading activities of my Goodreads friends and saw that one had read a book which looked interesting — so I added that to my list as well.

It never ends, does it? Last year I got the list down to under 400, but then I found this Australian site that had a whole bunch of rare Holocaust stories and suddenly I was up to 450 and climbing. All of those books will have to be ordered in, too, which lessens the possibility that I’ll ever get around to them, but I didn’t want to just forget about them.

Of course my list is far from being the longest in the world. One Goodreads friend of mine has, as of this writing, 4,567 books on her list.

I have accounts with two libraries — the Fort Wayne one and the Ohio State University one. At OSU I have twelve books checked out right now (one of them a school textbook, three of them already read and just not returned yet) and five on hold. Oh, and four inter-library loan requests. The librarians at OSU know me quite well by now. I don’t have to show my ID anymore. When a stack of books comes for me, they set it aside right there on the counter instead of putting them with the rest of the holds.

At the Fort Wayne library I have eleven books checked out and one hold that isn’t ready for me yet (a new book that hasn’t arrived). And two inter-library loan requests. I’ve made friends with the librarians there, to the extent that one lent me her advance review copy of Bill Bryson’s latest book.

I think if I had absolutely no other obligations I would probably read and work on my website forever. And maybe write some. I love to read a good book, then call my friends and tell me about it. I pick up on a lot of random stuff that way. The other day in class, my professor went on a digression and said some friend of his adopted a child from Kazakhstan, and added, “I have no idea why he chose Kazakhstan.” I replied with a list of the pluses of adopting from Kazakhstan. The other people in the class stared at me. My professor, who has had several classes with me, said, “She just knows stuff like that.”

People think I’m some kind of genius for randomly knowing a lot of stuff. But the way I see it, it’s just that I read so much. If they read the same books, they would know all that stuff too. Most people just don’t have the inclination to devote almost all their spare time to reading, to the neglect of everything else, the way that I do. And most of what I know is completely useless, anyway. Like, who cares that the Democratic Republic of the Congo requires you to carry a fire extinguisher in your car? It’s not like I’ll ever go there.

Now that I’ve finished this self-centered egotistical ramble, I think I’ll return to chipping away at my to-read list, in the finest Sisyphean style.

I haven’t forgotten that I still owe you guys a review of The Last Place You’d Look.

17 thoughts on “An analysis of my reading habits

  1. Zoe April 16, 2011 / 5:29 am

    I teach and was recently quite impressed to discover there is a strong reading ethic among a lot more of them than I would have thought. I couldn’t imagine not reading, I would give up the internet, TV, movies etc for books anyday if I had to.

  2. cmyweb April 16, 2011 / 6:02 am

    I love reading…I wish I had more time to do it. My memories of childhood pretty much exclusively revolve around reading. I was such (and still am) an introvert that books are like friends, you can literally get lost in them. We’re hoping to move at some point in the future. With the advent of Kindle technology we’d prefer to get rid of the 100’s of books we’ve collected over the users (both my husband and I). Any thoughts on where we could donate them?

    • Meaghan April 16, 2011 / 1:09 pm

      I don’t know if this is true anywhere else, but my local recycling center has this thing where you can donate books and then other people can get them free. It’s a way of “recycling” books without destroying them. Of course some books (like manuals for out-of-date software, Windows 3.1 for example) are better off being pulped.

      I’ll probably be the last person in the world to own a Kindle. I like to handle books. I like the smell of them. I like to be able to leave them in my car without worrying that they’ll either get stolen, freeze or melt. Furthermore, many of the ones I read are so obscure that they will never, ever come in Kindle edition.

      • Dejah April 16, 2011 / 10:27 pm

        I’m with you on the handling/smell of books. I would rather read than eat! My library knows me and recommends books for me, but there is not enough time in the universe to read all that I want to. BTW, Mom read the ENTIRE middle school library while she was there.

      • Meaghan April 17, 2011 / 5:26 pm

        There was a website I found a few years ago that sold perfumes with unusual scents, and they had one that was supposed to smell like a library. I never purchased it so I can’t say whether it really did or not.

    • danielle April 17, 2011 / 6:24 pm

      nothing beats a rainy day and a good book………….

      • Meaghan April 17, 2011 / 9:28 pm

        I actually don’t mind too much that my computer is out of comission — partly of course because I can borrow another’s (Michael’s right now) and partly because I can focus on other interests. Mainly reading.

  3. Justin April 16, 2011 / 6:46 am

    I think this country started to decline when television came along. A whole generation of kids planted themselves in front of the TV and stopped reading, so they no longer had to think and use their imagination. People now are nuts about media ‘celebrities’, but few actually care about book authors. Two local Border’s Bookstores have closed in my area due to poor sales and libraries have more people using the computer lab then they have reading the books. There is a used bookstore I frequent that is right across the street from a school and the owner tells me that he gets less than a dozen kids from the school actually entering the store a year.

    You don’t read too much Meaghan. Keep up the good work.

    • Meaghan April 16, 2011 / 1:04 pm

      I don’t know. I have heard that fewer people read before TV became popular than after. Remember that before TV we had “radio shows” that were just like TV shows except without the visual component.

    • Karen April 16, 2011 / 2:24 pm

      You should see the lines of people checking out at New York Public library branches. Endless!

      I only have 17 checked out and 15 requested. Plus 413 titles on my Amazon list.

      I’m a pretty light reader :0)

  4. amy April 16, 2011 / 10:58 am

    At least I have a new safety tip when I go to the Congo

  5. maureen April 16, 2011 / 12:44 pm

    Anywhere I have ever moved, the first thing acquired is a driver’s license: not because I am so law-abiding, but because it’s the easiest ID to use when getting the library card. [To compare: I drove my car with NY plates on it for the three years I lived in New Orleans. It cost money to transfer the car over, that I didn’t have. WA state was less relaxed about it, alas.] Having access to books whether owned or loaned is the 4th necessity for life, after food, shelter and sleep, followed by good beer and chocolate.

    Good to see you are feeling better, Meaghan.

  6. KER April 25, 2011 / 9:01 pm

    funny i ran across this after i signed up on goodreads today…and i love the feel and smell of books too…not sure if i will ever own a kindle or a nook

  7. KER April 25, 2011 / 9:03 pm

    and i do the whole trivia thing too…we call it Kari’s knick knacks of useles knowledge…though it’s not all useless

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