Yvann at Reading Fuelled by Tea commented on a recent blog post here, which led me to her blog where she linked to an fantastic episode of NPR’s Talk of the Nation, where NPR’s culture blogger Linda Holmes brings up this slightly disheartening point:
“And it becomes a sort of overwhelming thought when you realize that no matter how hard you try, no matter how smart you are, no matter how much you love to read — as I put it in the piece, statistically speaking, you’re going to die having missed almost everything.”
Holmes argues that the remedy for this is either culling — deciding that an entire genre is not worth your time — or surrendering — acknowledging that there are many books out there that you’d probably enjoy but that you can’t possibly get to everything and you’re at peace with that.
(If you’ve got the time, read or listen to the whole interview. It’s really quite good.)
So do I cull or surrender?
I think I surrendered a long time ago, perhaps fully when I was in graduate school studying book publishing. The words the human race puts to paper is never-ending and I have to be at peace knowing that most of them will never pass before my eyes.
There must be time to read in heaven, right?
Sometimes, however, I look at my 600-book TBR list and I think I need to go through and cull individual books. I’m starting to realize that I really should only read things I’m in love with. With millions of books out there, just waiting for me to crack them open, why am I wasting so much time on books that are just “eh”?
I think part of this is review copies and book club books. I finish them because I feel a responsibility to finish them. I think I need to cull the number of books I accept for review, and perhaps only read the book club books that really capture my attention. This is culling on a smaller scale, but it might save my precious reading time for the things that truly speak to my reading soul.
So what about you? Do you cull or surrender? Do you think you’re reading too many things that are just so-so? Why?