I once heard that an active reader only reads 2000 books in their lifetime. I found that depressing at the time, since I already owned at least 2000 books. If the statistic was correct, that meant that I would never be able to read all the books I already owned…. let alone the books I might obtain in the future.
A few years ago I decided to sit down and figure out if it was true. It turns out that 2000 books was probably a bit of an overestimate…. especially considering the fact that most people probably don’t read more than a dozen books a year or so (the median is 8, the average is 17). If you read 17 books per year from age 20 to age 80, you will read just over 1000 books.
I read a lot, but wanted to make sure that I read more than 1000 books in my lifetime. I think I can read about 4000 books. The problem is that there are so many really good books out there! So I decided to start keeping track of how many books I have read. And I am doing it on this blog.
Here are the posts from previous years, and the lists of books I have read, with the total count so far:
- Birth-2009 Estimate: 1500 (doesn’t count children’s books)
- 4000 Books 2010: 45
- 4000 Books 2011: 69
- 4000 Books 2012: 52
- 4000 Books 2013: 57
- 4000 Books 2014: ?? See Comments Below
- Total so Far: 1723
I don’t count the books I write in that list, which really should count for about 10 books each (I wrote 3 in 2013), since not only did I read the book while writing it, but I also read it and re-read it in the process of typesetting, editing, and proofreading the book….
It’s a little crass, but did you ever see that episode of Seinfeld where Elaine hears a rumor that the birth control sponges are going to be discontinued, and so she buys every one she can find in the entire city? Then, to conserve her sponges, she has to decide if each boyfriend is “spongeworthy” or not?
Yeah, it is strange, but that is how I have come to view books. Though there are millions of books available to read, I can only read 4000, so I have started to try to decide if each book is “readworthy” … that is, does it deserve a spot on my list of 4000 books I will read in my lifetime?
How I Choose Books to Read
Anyway, here is a bit more about how I choose which books to read:
- Will it challenge my thinking?
- Does it look like it says something new, or present a traditional truth in an insightful way?
- Is it written by someone who is credible?
- Will it help me in one of my own writing projects?
- Will it help answer a biblical or theological question I am struggling with?
- Is it enjoyable to read? (Sometimes, you have to just read books for the fun of it.)
I Do Accept Review Books, but…
I do accept review books, but I am doing this less and less. I probably received and read about ten books in 2013 that I read and reviewed on this blog and on Amazon.com. A few years ago when I first started this list, I was happy to receive any free book that any author wanted to send me to review on this blog. I read dozens. But it got to be that these were the only books I was reading…
So this past year, I was much more selective in which books I accepted for review. I turned down a lot of offers. I feel bad about that, but it is what I have to do to read the books I really want to read.
Of course, I often accept review books from people who read my blog, because if you take the time to read my stuff, I definitely want to take the time to read yours. So if you have a book you want me to read and review on this blog, contact me through the About Page.
Books I “Must Read” in 2014
Here are some of the books that are “Next Up” in my Reading Queue:
- Paul and the Faithfulness of God by NT Wright (2 vols…. though these 2 volumes should count as 10 books…. they are over 2200 pages combined)
- Freedom, Suffering & Love by Elphinstone (for my When God Pled Guilty book)
- Raising Hell by Ferwerda (for my When God Pled Guilty book)
- Razing Hell by Baker (for my When God Pled Guilty book)
- Understanding the Book of Job by Tompkins (for my When God Pled Guilty book)
- Unholy Allegiances by deSilva (for my When God Pled Guilty book)
- Reading Revelation Responsibly (for my When God Pled Guilty book)
- Time and History by Rissi (for my When God Pled Guilty book)
- The Game of Thrones Series (5 volumes… I know, I know, complete depravity…)
- How to Fail at Almost Everything… by Scott Adams (simply because I love Dilbert)
- C.S. Lewis: A Life – McGrath (I don’t have this book yet, but soon…)
My Favorite Books of All Time
Oh, and are you curious what books I have read that I highly recommend for others to read? I made a list of them at this page: Books Every Christian Should Read.
How about you? How do you decide which books to read, and which books are on your “Must Read NOW” stack for this coming year?