Twenty-five-year-old women, for example, have 61 years left to live according to the Social Security Life Expectancy Calculator. Assuming they live that long, average readers in that group have 732 more books to read in their lifetimes. “Average” in this case means people who read 12 books per year.
Okay, twelve books per year is pathetic, but the post also provides numbers for “voracious” and “super” readers, neither of which actually comes close to the number of books most of us read per year (the numbers provided for those categories are 50 and 80 books per year respectively.)
Let us call ourselves . . . super-duper readers? No. Prodigious readers? Hah, how about compulsive readers?
Anyway, I, at very far from the top of the heap, read about 100 books a year. That’s a nice round number, but assuming I keep reading about that many books per year also presumes I will continue writing about two books per year, which may not be accurate. But never mind, never mind. Assume 100 per year.
I expect life expectancy will continue to rise, hopefully precipitously and soon and with a commensurate improvement in the overall health and vigor of old codgers, but assume for now that women’s life expectancy remains constant at a fairly pathetic 86.
I am, of course, a good deal over twenty five. That gives me . . . let’s see . . . let’s assume I live past 86 so I can round up to 4000, which is a nice attractive number. So something like 4000 books are left in my reading life.
The number that floats through my mind for “number of English-language novels published per year” is 400,000, with about three quarters of those now being self-published. If you know that’s way off, let me know. And I expect the number of novels published per year will only increase. But for now I’ll go with that.
So if 1.6 million novels are published in the next 40 years and I can read only 4000 of them . . . that would be 0.025%.
Wow. Of course a large majority of those novels wouldn’t appeal to me for one reason or another, but still. Better get busy.
Also, I’m going to cite these numbers next time someone raises the question of DNFing books versus finishing everything you start. Because as you can see, life is truly, objectively too short to read books you don’t like.