My husband was telling me about some video he had seen where a person talked about how we don’t have enough time to Read All The Books.  He said that if he read a book a week, he could only read in his adult lifetime a mere few library shelves.  A quick stride down one aisle was all he could manage.  Out of a probable 130 million books that have ever been published.

I’m not sure what the point was – something on realizing we can’t know everything? – but it caused a quick panic for me, followed by scoffing.

If you read only a book a week (or more likely, much less than that) as an adult, you’re probably only counting “real” books.  As in, you sat down and read something you held in your hand, either on a device or on paper, and you read it front to back.  Understood.

If you’re a parent of small children though, this doesn’t count bedtime stories.  Or the hundred times you read The Very Hungry Caterpillar this week.  But those are books, often very good ones with important things to say, or else you wouldn’t read them to your children even when you’re really too tired, right?

Speaking of which are we counting rereads as “books read this week”?  What about the couple of times a day I pick up some random book and read a few pages from the middle because I can’t help it?  (I have Reader’s Disease.  It’s a thing.)

What about audio books?  What level of distraction is allowed to consider those as “read”?

What about non-fiction?  Not just the obvious “real books”, but newspapers and magazines, (if you happened to be old fashioned) or their related web articles.  How long does a book have to be to count as a book?  How many pictures are allowed?  What about popups?  Reference?  What if I skim the really long descriptions?  What about scripts?

And what about story in other formats?  I read not only comics, manga and graphic novels, but also play visual novels, which are basically games you read and occasionally interact with briefly.  Does that count as a book?  I think so.  If so, what about other games with story as a main point?  And if audio books count, shouldn’t video books be a thing?  Do movies and TV shows count as books?  They certainly count as story.

Saying there isn’t time to read all the books you want is just a scare tactic.  We are beings made up entirely of story.  We live and breathe it all the time, even while berating ourselves for not reading enough.  Read for joy, and maybe let yourself off the hook a bit, hm?

Besides, this means I’ll have roughly 129 million+ books to read in heaven.  (Yes, my idea of heaven is essentially a universal Library of Congress.)  Excellent.

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