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[Comments] (2) Squeezing Out The Tube Of 2008: I read 44 books in 2008, about half of what I read in 2007. Kind of depressing given I've got about 130 unread books, enough to keep me busy for the next three years at this rate. On the other hand, I wrote six short stories, compared to two in 2007.

I'm generally dissatisfied with the quality of the books I read in 2008, so I'm only going to mention a few that stood out: The Making of the Atomic Bomb (crummy.com Book of the Year), Anathem (the only fiction on this list), Consciousness Explained, Jimmy Carter's presidential memoir, and Sumana's friend John Morearty's self-published autobiography. Runner-up award to George Saunders, I guess.

A question, a conundrum if you will, about the quality issue. I've got a number of excellent books that I haven't read because I know I'm going to want to keep them. Instead I tend to read huge books that I know I'll discard after reading, to free up the maximum space on my bookshelf. A good strategy if I had infinite time, but I'll only live so long and I want to read books with a higher expected value. So I ask you, how do I force myself to read the books I think will be super good keepers in preference to the ones I just think might be good?

One idea I just thought of is to pick out the 30 books with the lowest expected values and hide them in a box. More room on the unread-book bookshelf = less pressure. And maybe one day I can just get rid of that box and not feel like I lost anything. Any other ideas?

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Posted by anonymouscoward at Thu Jan 01 2009 19:13

I have definitely experienced your conundrum and, alas, don't have a solution. For me, what was most important about recognising it (many years ago) was the concomitant realisation that I was actually mortal and only had finite amount of time left [shudder].

Posted by jaacob at Fri Jan 02 2009 02:13

a second-tier box sounds wise, but here's another way to run it- keep a stated number of unread books on the shelf. everytime you get a new book, make it kick another unread book to the box. then maybe lose the box.


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