So Many Books, but Limited Reading Time and Lifespan

Extollager

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2010
Messages
5,220
#1
This

Too Much Music: A Failed Experiment In Dedicated Listening

is an interesting and amusing article about accumulating recorded music, but it's relevant to book acquisition.

I've been trying this year to limit my book ordering* to the first and 15th of the month, unless the circumstances are exceptional. It's not that I can't afford the books, since most of the books I order are used copies that cost no more than a few dollars -- $20 would be a bit steep compared to my average, I suppose. But I have many books on hand already, some never read, and some that I know I want to reread. And, in the past few years, I've arrived at the point where I don't have room for them all given existing shelf space. Moreover, while I hope I have quite a few years left in which I will be able to read, I know I have fewer such years than I did 20, 30, 40 years ago, during all of which time I bought books.

Lately, though I haven't been buying books as freely as I'm tempted to, I have been printing some out from archive.org. Even so, I itch daily to order books.

*Where I live, there are no significant bookstores at hand.
 

Paul_C

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Nov 20, 2016
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405
Location
Northampton UK
#3
After joining Chrons in search of book recommendations I've acquired a lot of books, and there are days when I wonder if I really need to buy any more.

Having said that, my Dad can get through ten to twelve books every six weeks or so, and he's 91 (and sleeps half the day :) ) - so perhaps I'll need more after all :)
 

J Riff

The Ants are my friends..
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Apr 11, 2010
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Sleeping in Lab
#4
Actually, modren tech makes it possible to garner up music without all the dross. You used to have to fill a wall with cassettes, now it's one hard drive.
How much do 100 Tangerine Dream albums weigh? More than this laptop. I have three of their tunes on here somewhere...
 

Connavar

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Joined
Apr 1, 2007
Messages
8,403
#5
I have been thinking about the same questions for the last 2-3 years. I use to buy 10 books per month when i was newer as an avid reader who had to collect all the favs, the genres, the classics, the poetry, the plays etc. But now i have all the books i want, need unread at home. I have a fav local bookshop that is legendary in here in Uppsala. Uppsala English Bookshop is specialist bookstore for book lovers, i have 4 books worth of books from them. They are like 5 km from my house.

Im 35 years old, i have been a reader really for real, avid reader you guys know from SFF chrons since 2007 and i have understood you have limited time to read when there are so many quality authors, books i must read. This is why i almost never re-read unless its a beloved book by Vance or Lord Dunsany or Poe or Hammett or Plath type authors i adore. The last books i bought/ordered I'm going to pick up today from the store:

Complete Plays - Christopher Marlowe
The Big Book of The Continental Op - Hammett
Pulp - Charles Bukowski
The Ghosts of Galway - Ken Bruen

Marlowe interest me more than Shakespeare these days, Hammett is the greatest ever at his field, Bukowski is the second beat i try after Ginsberg's poetry and Ken Bruen is one of my alltime fav authors who is actually a man living today.
 

Connavar

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2007
Messages
8,403
#6
This

Too Much Music: A Failed Experiment In Dedicated Listening

is an interesting and amusing article about accumulating recorded music, but it's relevant to book acquisition.

I've been trying this year to limit my book ordering* to the first and 15th of the month, unless the circumstances are exceptional. It's not that I can't afford the books, since most of the books I order are used copies that cost no more than a few dollars -- $20 would be a bit steep compared to my average, I suppose. But I have many books on hand already, some never read, and some that I know I want to reread. And, in the past few years, I've arrived at the point where I don't have room for them all given existing shelf space. Moreover, while I hope I have quite a few years left in which I will be able to read, I know I have fewer such years than I did 20, 30, 40 years ago, during all of which time I bought books.

Lately, though I haven't been buying books as freely as I'm tempted to, I have been printing some out from archive.org. Even so, I itch daily to order books.

*Where I live, there are no significant bookstores at hand.
Extollager i cant imagine that experience, the history you have with those many books, decades. You are like the reader i want to be in a 20,30, 40 years. I have been thinking about saving money for big shelfs i saw in bookshelf store that was wall to wall, you need room i have understand if you want to age in style with your book collection :)
 

Hugh

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Joined
Mar 27, 2016
Messages
365
#7
I had a watershed experience some years back. We bought our first place a little over twenty five years ago and for the first time I was able to bring all my books together. I constructed a massive series of shelves, and was really pleased. While I'm sure that some of you have many more books than me, I still had more than anyone I knew.

Then we decided to move and my wife argued persuasively that I take down the shelves and store the books in order to get the place looking better for possible buyers. To my very great surprise, after I did this it felt like a weight had lifted. This was completely unexpected. The best way to explain it was that it felt as as if the books had been constantly whispering to me (OK, I do know they weren't) saying stuff like "You haven't read me yet", "Look at me, I'm difficult to get hold of", "You must be clever, you've read me" and all sorts of other truly stupid stuff.

We moved over ten years ago. During the time that the books were stored I had got used to doing without them. Today I do have some smaller shelves for valued favourites, but I try to move on most books that I read fairly quickly, either re-selling on Amazon or giving away. I tell myself that if I ever want to read a book again that I can easily just buy it. So far, I don't think I've re-bought a single one that I've moved on. The arrival of the internet has changed so much.
 
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dannymcg

Justified and Ancient member
Joined
Sep 9, 2016
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Cumbria UK
#8
I've been moving more and more into ebooks, mainly due to storage space.

At the same time I can't resist a bargain 'job lot' and often find myself with dozens of unread. A lot are dross and I take them directly to charity shops - once there I just have to browse so usually end up with a bundle of similar size when I come back out :)
 

awesomesauce

Disco unicorn!
Joined
Apr 23, 2018
Messages
51
#9
At the same time I can't resist a bargain 'job lot' and often find myself with dozens of unread. A lot are dross and I take them directly to charity shops - once there I just have to browse so usually end up with a bundle of similar size when I come back out
This happens to me at the library exchange. Our local library has a shelf by the door where people can leave books they don't want anymore and take something left by someone else. I stop in to drop off half a dozen, and I leave with just as many. At least when I regret my poor impulse control, it's just a bit of exercise to return them. But it can get to be a vicious cycle.
 

TheDustyZebra

Aspiring notaphilist
Staff member
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Nov 26, 2009
Messages
8,149
Location
Colorado
#10
This happens to me at the library exchange. Our local library has a shelf by the door where people can leave books they don't want anymore and take something left by someone else. I stop in to drop off half a dozen, and I leave with just as many. At least when I regret my poor impulse control, it's just a bit of exercise to return them. But it can get to be a vicious cycle.
I have, over the last few years, got better and better at resisting those. Telling myself, "you don't have room for more books". But it's still a struggle.
 

vanye

Human, c.o. Earth
Joined
Mar 18, 2012
Messages
675
Location
Germany
#11
I think I feel a bit like a child caught with two hands in the cookie jar by @Extollager. Music and books have been my greatest loves since a fairly early age. They were the only thinkable choices when the time came to decide on the academic path I wanted to follow (guess which one I chose!) and they still are integral parts of my daily life a few decades later.

And they both take a lot of room, as well. There is a massively oversized stereo in our living room and we own ca. 2000 albums on various physical media. We listen to music several hours every day. „We“, because my wife shares my love for music.

My reading habits have not fared so well, though. While I do own quite a few books and keep buying them, reading has slowed down considerably and I squarely blame my job for it. On the one hand, it requires a lot of reading job-related stuff and also understanding and memorizing it. So there is some fatigue there. But the main fatigue seems to be emotional: After a day at work, enduring office politics and surviving another day in the shark tank, I have a hard time empathising with fictional characters or getting embroiled in fictional intrigue.

So these days I usually only manage to read for an hour before going to bed. But I still hoard books against a time when I shall be less preoccupied with other people‘s problems. And there is one advantage to my situation: I only read books I want to read these days.
 

tinkerdan

candycane shrimp
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Dec 10, 2012
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They can't find me.
#12
My wife goes through as many books as I have laying around unread in as little as three months.
It's no use trying to get her to read them for me.
Some things you just have to do yourself.
 

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