So Many Books, So Little Time

This is about my experience of trying to read 100 books in a single year. At the start of 2013 I stumbled upon a post on Facebook in which one of my friends had uploaded a snapshot of his “Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge”. His target had been to finish off 40 books and he had managed 30. It struck me that I had never thought of counting how many books I had read, I couldn’t even tell if my count would be in the 50s or 100s. I also felt sure that I could easily do 40 books a year, probably even 50 or 60. On some whim I decided to try for 100, I have no idea know why I kept such a high target for myself, and no idea why 100, but that seemed such a good round number! I knew it wouldn’t be easy, it was a tough target; and the board exams, entrance exams and college admissions that were coming up were not going to make it any easier. I had such a huge list and very little time to read it all. Frank Zappa’s quote “So many books, so little time” summarizes this perfectly.

I kept a list of all the books that I read and looking back at it now I can’t believe that I read all of them last year. Some of those books feel as if I had read them a long time ago, as if I have always known those stories. Some of the books I recall reading just because they happened to be lying around at home, others I waited for eagerly, searched hard to get any copy and finish it off. Out of all the books that I read the ones that really left a lasting effect were the Harry Potter series, Robert Ludlum’s Bourne trilogy and A Song of Ice and Fire series. I also read some non-fiction books which were also quite a fun read. Every single one of these books had small impacts on my outlook towards reading books.

Harry Potter and the Bourne trilogy taught me to always read the book which inspired the movie before the movie itself. The books had much more depth and were broader in many ways. I could clearly see why people wanted to read books when they could get more or less the same story from some movie, which would finish in a few hours. Harry Potter really showed me the differences that can creep into the movies and the Bourne trilogy showed me how movies are incapable of doing what books could do. Today, I am a staunch believer in the “books first” principle.

A Song of Ice and Fire had a lot of impact on how I looked forward to a book, particularly those from the fantasy genre. This series is a very different from the other books I have read in this genre; it is real, unpredictable, keeping you on your toes and basically just amazing! After reading that and going through the angst in those books, no other book or movie or TV series has been the same. I can now wait patiently for the next part of any book or movie to come out. I no longer feel the killing suspense that I used to feel waiting for new books to come out, for new episodes to come out; it is now bearable suspense.

Somewhere along the way I read the Hunger Games and the Shiva trilogy to figure out what all the fuss was about. Overall both were good series but I was quite disappointed with last book of both the series. Well, not all that starts well ends well. I also read a few non-fiction books! Of these only two were books of my own choosing, the others were suggested to me by my father. I found these books to be brilliant but very time consuming. I still don’t know if the allure was because I so rarely read non-fiction that my brain loves it or I had just picked up great books! I read books about the biology behind risk taking, Fermat’s last theorem, memory techniques and championships and a book about how algorithms have invaded all aspects of human life. These books though so various all provide great insights to different fields and were all very fascinating. It is quite interesting that I remember something from all of these books while that same thing isn’t true for all of the fiction books, probably these were better or probably my brain loves change.

Overall I managed to read 66 books last year, missing my target by 34 books. I blame this huge deficit to my undertaking the Song of Ice and Fire series. Although worth it, those five books took me around three months to finish! Trying to read so many books has been quite an amazing experience for me. I never had to persuade myself to read more books. I felt bad when I didn’t read for a couple of weeks and nowadays if I don’t read for a couple of days I feel that I start feeling bad. I never lacked for books to read, I always had lists of books that I hadn’t read, my wish-list was so long it would take me years to make a dent in it and still I kept finding new books that I wanted to read. All of these things still happen today, it is a vicious circle, once you read many books you find that there are many more worth reading. Anyway, I am hoping that I would be able to do better this year.

It was a splendid experience doing this experiment. Looking back at the past year I don’t know for sure if my decision to keep such a high target for myself was right or not. Sometimes I think that even such a high target will not help me to finish reading all the books that I want to read. There are other times when I think I am rushing things, I am moving so fast that I don’t have any idea what I am reading.

So many books, so little time. There are still too many books I want to read. The target is just a number, it is the reading that I enjoy the most. I have kept the 100 books target this year as well and one of my friends has also decided to try it and we keep a check on each other. Is it worth trying out at the cost of some movies or TV shows or a little social interaction? I think, Yes. For in books, we can enter a world that is entirely our own. Enjoy those books!

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