So Many Books.

“So many books, so little time.”

Frank Zappa

130 Million Books have been published. Another million-plus have been self-published.

The median number of books read by an adult is around 5 books per year.

Bookaholics, like myself, read around 80+ books a year.

Let’s make it easy and say we only read 10 books a year. If you were to live another seventy years, you would have read around 700 books. If we bump that up to 50 books a year, then by the end of your life you would have read around 3500 books.

700 out of 130,000,000!!

 3500 out of 130,000,000!!

That’s practically a rounding error!

Of course, not all 130 million books out there are equal in value. Some can potentially change your life and open you up to new ways of thinking about the world. Some will entertain while expanding your imagination. And I’m sure there’s a hefty amount of books out there that just plain suck.

To me, the number of books read is not as valuable as the books we absorb, digest and apply them to our lives.

And the number of books we read doesn’t matter as much as the quality of books we read.

“A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting.”

Henry David Thoreau

If you only read three books in your life, but those books had a massive impact on your health, wealth, happiness, meaning, business and community, would it matter that you didn’t read the other 199,999,997 books?

Before Gutenberg invented the printing press, how many people only read the Bible or other ancient texts?

I read both nonfiction and fiction, but to keep this post single-minded, let’s focus on nonfiction. The key to great nonfiction books is the knowledge and wisdom bound inside their covers. A book is essentially a mentor and friend who you don’t have direct access too. Books allow us to not only explore the greatest minds of today but the greatest minds throughout history. Very few are alive who were around to witness the mind and work ethic of Churchill, Eleanor Roosevelt, Alan Watts and more. For a small fee (around $10 bucks) we can have access to any advice we are looking for. Want to be an inventor? How about picking up the Wright Brothers Biography? Want to get better at marketing? How about a Seth Godin book. Want to explore the history of medicine? Read The Emperor of All Maladies or The Gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee.

A book is a small price to pay to gain a window into the greatest thinkers, philosophers, entrepreneurs, and activists of humankind.

The problem now, and forever going forward will be knowing what books to read and what not to read. With only so many books we can read over a lifetime, we must filter out the bad ones and focus on the good.

The solution I’ve found is to curate your reading list by finding avid readers who have similar tastes and principles you do.

Here are two excellent sources to get you started:

Ryan Holiday

Maria Popova

I’m also going to making a push to talk more about books in 2020. If you aren’t a big reader but are book curious, or if you love reading and want book recommendations and reviews, sign up for my future Bookaholics Newsletter: A curated list of recommend books (nonfiction + fiction) for book lovers looking for their next read.

If there are any books you would like to recommend or any book related things you want to talk about, email me: josh at renaissance life dot com.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #780


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