I May Require Help
I’ve said before that one awesome part of being in the Army is working with people, but I do have to admit that sometimes it backfires just a bit. While talking to some folks about books and reading, I mentioned that I love to read and have a lot of books. Someone else piped up that they had a fairly huge collection also. At that point I stated that I keep a spreadsheet of every book I’ve read, and that it goes back to 1986.
That was the proverbial ‘needle across the record’ moment as the room went silent and everyone stared at me. I stopped and mentally rewound what I’d said to make sure I didn’t accidentally tell the one about the Pope, the dildo and the flying chinchillas. A brief excerpt of the conversation that followed went like this:
- Me: “What?!?”
- Dude: “You have a twenty-six year old list of books you’ve read”
- Me: “Of course. That’s how I keep track of them. Why are you looking at me like I just told the Pope, dildo, and flying chinchilla joke?”
- Dude: “Man, that’s just not right.”
Apparently my buddy found this beyond comprehension. I find it to be a question of practicality. I do read a lot, and the list is creeping up on 1000 entries. Some years are better than others. One year I finished 90 books. Another I barely squeaked out 24. I also figured that while I was at it, I might as well tally up the pages too, and so I’m hovering at around 420,000 or so. As-of the end of last year that is.
At some point, I added some columns so I could categorize my list, so I can sort it by whether or not it was a military subject, hardcover, and whether or not I own it or it was one I read from the library. It has the obvious stuff for author name and date I finished the book, of course.
The List has rules, too. For example, I don’t count newspapers, office paperwork and memos, mail, and other shit like that in my assessment of reading as I go. I do count the bibliograpy and index sections of academic works though, and I figure it all evens out that way. I have yet to come up with a method to best capture e-books, mainly because I don’t have an e-book reader nor do I have any particular desire to get one. Yet.
Your question of ‘why’ is obvious. Here’s the deal: with 960 books I’ve read in my life thus far, and knowing my tastes fall along pretty well-worn genre grooves, the odds of me buying a paperback I already read back when I was 14 is actually pretty high. Also, with the additions I’ve made to improve the list, I know that if I’m looking for a book I have on record as still owning, it’s either on a shelf or in a box in the basement. Since I do re-read great books, this is a handy tool to have, and I’ve been known to use my military and history collections to do school-related writing (and therefore documentation) and research.
I still don’t know why you’re staring at me. It’s not like OCD or something.