There are no shortage to “100 books you must read before you die” lists. They all generally share the same handful of books - classics, modern classics, and a handful of books only referenced to put an Amazon link behind.
The sad truth: most of us wont read 100 books before we die. In total. Regardless of what list they wind up on.
Others read 50 or 60 books a year. I find myself re-reading the same handful of books as I work new ones in the mix. I feel like I’ve read The Collected Works of Amy Hempel more than 20 times (I feel like you should too).
More or less, that’s what Max Joseph set out to do in his latest movie. How to read more books before he dies, while also visiting the world’s most beautiful book stores.
His pretense is notable - books are constantly hitting the market while new content is being produced and shipped every single day. When so much of what is presented to us just asks for a moment or two (a tweet, a podcast), how can we dedicate hours to a book? Is there a way to shoehorn more into our life?
You could read faster. You could build up stacks of books you have plowed through and count up all the late nights it took to get you there.
"If you want the deep experience of a book, if you want to internalise it, to mix an author's ideas with your own and make it a more personal experience, you have to read it slowly.”
You know: that whole “quality over quantity” thing.
The key to more books could be less culture. In the article “When Did Pop Culture Become Homework?,” Soraya Roberts points out the general dread she feels when yet another thing winds up trending that she fees obligated to consume. There is always something new, a reason to log in, read up, download, and refresh. Some of it is solid and worth adding to your routine playlists.
Other times, there’s so much of it you find yourself being “culturally cantankerous” and resisting just about anything new.
More or less the premise of the book I Hate New Music. Get flooded with the new, you have no chance to really appreciate the old. Ignore the new, and you might find yourself at a loss for words at parties or at the bottom of your trivia scoreboard.
Ignore the classic texts, and you’ll find yourself reading different iterations of the same stuff over and over again.
I try to look to older texts for context to view the new stuff with. Everything is a remix of the old and there is certain joys to finding what old stuff is influencing the new era.
Books Mentioned In This Post