500 Book Milestone

23/01/2019

It’s Bookfest this week and with what I purchased I tipped over the 500 books mark. That’s 500 books owned, not read, but they are all in the ever growing pile that I’ll get to someday. I believe the Japanese phrase I heard some time ago was “tsundoku”, the books that are collected but never read. So many books and nowhere near enough time…

So I haven’t posted for two days in a row now, as I had a friend visiting (who left today) and spent quite a bit of time at Bookfest. What time I did plan to dedicate to writing a piece last night was stolen due to an incredible stuff up with the database I created for said books. When changing the title of a single book, my where clause (condition) was ambiguous, so all but two books changed to the exact same title – a lesson in keeping backup copies of everything, which I thankfully did. A backup for the backup doesn’t go astray either.

The reason I mention reaching 500 books isn’t just because I am pleased with the milestone, but also because it’s a good chance to highlight just how important research and reading is. The book you read does not have to be about your field of study or work (although those who do have an increased chance to outperform others who don’t), just as long as it keeps your mind stimulated. While in the last couple of years I have certainly branched into a lot more nonfiction – history and politics specifically – I would still say the bigger ‘half’ of my books are nonfiction – majority being fantasy and historical fiction. None of those genres match my IT degree in any way particularly, but (a) are of great interest to me, (b) tie in quite nicely with my CI degree, and (c) contribute extensively to both my vocabulary and my ability to think critically and understand the subject matter involved.

In an aside to a previous piece I remarked on the number of new words I was stumbling across while reading What Is History?, and now Viva La Revolucion (although some of the phrases in that book are Spanish rather than English). Would I ever have use of the word opprobrium in general conversation, or have enough to do with Latin America to refer to the term hacienda rather than just saying estate or another English equivalent? Unlikely, but damnit, if I ever come across them or a similar word I’ll have that knowledge, and I can say I learned some Spanish from a source other than my younger siblings’ Dora the Explorer DVDs.

It also helps me research topics more efficiently, a skill that is transferable. Follow the path I’ve taken from when I first got interest into politics to now and it’s surreal to look back on it. From watching Friendlyjordies’ videos, reading 1984 and Animal Farm, and looking at WikiLeaks in high school, feeling ‘woke’, I came across Bernie Sanders in the latter half of 2015 (I was in grade 12) when he announced his bid for the presidency – RIP that prospect. It was from Friendlyjordies that I ended up hearing about Noam Chomsky (discovering one of the greatest political minds of the modern age through a guy who makes satirical videos on YouTube is probably the dumbest way I could have done so, but credit to him for introducing me to Manufacturing Consent). From there it’s turned into this website and a drive for knowledge that has turned my room into a fire hazard of 500+ books.

I’d like to hope I could read them all eventually, but as there are always more books to buy that term tsundoku seems quite appropriate. The commonly touted goal is to read a book a week, 52 in a year. The chances of managing that would be near impossible – I certainly doubt I, with university studies, could keep up with that pace. A more manageable goal would be one every two weeks, at least 26 a year. No matter how many books you read, however, you should always been reading something. If you do not have an answer to the question “What book are you reading at the moment?” then you have some work to do to remedy that. Bookfest, or similar events, are great places to find cheap books, or just online and in regular bookstores.

For now I think it is safe to say I’ll cap my book collecting at the current 504 and read from what I have before continuing to buy more, but the prospect of reaching 1000 books over the next few years sounds good to me.

 

Liked this? Read No Cure for Ignorance, Only Better Ignorance

Previous piece: “Liberal vs Conservatives”

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