T-shirt sold by Politics and Prose Bookstore
I love books. Most of my clients love books. And none of us will ever have time to read all the books we'd like to read.
But thanks to Discardia, I just read a wonderful article by Linda Holmes about coming to peace with this: with the fact that you're going to miss the "vast majority of the world's books, music, films, television and art." Here's a short quote, but I highly recommend reading the whole thing:
Culling is the choosing you do for yourself. It's the sorting of what's worth your time and what's not worth your time. ... It's saying, "I read the last Jonathan Franzen book and fell asleep six times, so I'm not going to read this one."(And yes, I recognize there is something ironic about telling you to go read an article about not having time to read everything.)
Surrender, on the other hand, is the realization that you do not have time for everything that would be worth the time you invested in it if you had the time, and that this fact doesn't have to threaten your sense that you are well-read. Surrender is the moment when you say, "I bet every single one of those 1,000 books I'm supposed to read before I die is very, very good, but I cannot read them all, and they will have to go on the list of things I didn't get to."
Want more reassurance it's OK to not read everything - even everything good? Beth Carswell wrote about books that tend to "languish unopened" in her collection, including the classics:
I feel like I should read everything ever written by Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, D.H. Lawrence, Jane Austen, Victor Hugo … I feel like I should forgo all chocolate and alcohol in favour of vegetables, too. And floss more. Constant flossing. I should be flossing right now. Things rarely work out that exact way.Related Reading:
Letting Go of (Some of) the Books (my May 2010 newsletter)