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How Many Books?

The question, How many books do you read in a year, has more depth than it first appears. I recently learned that the owner of Bank Square Books, Mystic’s independent bookstore, reads 160 books annually – or at least she did last year. Granted, some of them are children’s books. But still, that’s a lot of books. I read closer to 15; 20, maybe, if some of them are less than 300 pages or relatively quick reads.

What this means is if I live to be, say, 85, I will read 450-600 more books in my lifetime. At first glance, this might seem like a lot of books. But consider how many books have been published to date and how many more will be published in the next 30 years. This 450-600 is a rough estimate, of course. As I continue to age, I may have more free time, which I could spend reading. Or, I could read fewer books for reasons that aren’t clear to me now.

And so lately, I have been more selective, more intentional about evaluating what I want to read. This was not always the case. Several years ago I would read whatever book I received as a gift, or whatever work of fiction or non-fiction my library book group decided to dive into next. Now I weigh the choices, thinking, are these the pages I want to be turning during the hours of precious free time I will devote to reading over the next few weeks?

This line of thinking led me to Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, a book I had not read and a movie I had not seen. (By the way, the only books I can remember reading more than once are Catcher in the Rye, which I wanted to read again as an adult, and Olive Kitteridge, one of my favorites. And lots of children’s books that I read to my boys when they were young.) Kesey’s book was published in 1962, and, like many classics, is as relevant today as it was then. And I’m glad I took the time to read it.

How many books do you read in a year – and what’s next on your list?

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