How Many Books Can I Read Before I Die?

TW: Mentions of disease.

Let’s do the Math

I’m only 56, which is probably too young to be thinking about dying, but nonetheless, here I am.

I’m on my third cancer, skin, with 4th cancer seemingly on the way. (The DR tells me I have an 80% chance of having Thyroid cancer, the tumor needs to grow a little bigger before they treat it.)

Side note:

I try super hard to be positive. Do you think I could be overweight because of the thyroid tumor? There’s always a positive side to everything, right?

Back to the Math

Oh, lest I forget, I also have two chronic conditions. One makes it much more likely for me to get sick, (COVID anyone?) and the other makes it much more likely to have cancer. Surprised?

The way I see it, living to 80 would be a splendid gift indeed.

Now, I also happen to be active on Goodreads. I’m obsessive about tracking my reading.

I’ve read 106 books this year and am currently working on two more.

Part of my job is to read books in my place of employment, the library.

I listened to a lot of audiobooks this past year. I love golf, and it’s a 45-minute trip to the course where I had my membership. Audiobooks make the trip fly by.

Alas, I currently have skin cancer, which means I will need to cut way back on time in the sun, which means less golf, and fewer audiobooks.

But when I retire, I’ll have more time to read!

Crunch the numbers, and I think 100 books a year is doable.

That means I’ll read 2,400 books before I die.

Does that number seem small? A little frightening, perhaps? It sure does to me!

What Should I be Reading?

Could I read fun books?

I found a lovely author, Rhys Bowen . She writes mysteries, and they are good mysteries if not great mysteries. Strong female characters, good plot. I like them. Her books are a perfectly pleasant way to pass a winter afternoon.

However, they are not great. They’re like air-popped popcorn, drizzled with butter and salt, a good snack, but not cream herring with raw onions.

Do you know what I mean?

Could I read the classics?

I read many of them when I was in college because I was a pretentious wanker back then. Nobody gives a shit if you’ve read War and Peace, even if it’s the longest book in the English Language.

I didn’t particularly enjoy them then, and I don’t feel like devoting that much time to them now.

I’ve always loved Fantasy and Science Fiction. I own 49 Conan the Barbarian and 33 Star Trek books.

I like this genre because I like the idea that the world could be a little bit better than it is. My kid is 12, and I worry a lot about what kind of world she will live in when she’s my age.

I could read books about writing books.

I’d love to write the kind of books I love to read. Books with a little bit of magic, a lot of hope and even more heart. Books that show what could be and not what is.

Sarah Addison Allen is one of my favorite writers. I’ve read everything she’s done and enjoyed absolutely all of it!

Guess what?

She took a break from writing when she had breast cancer. She beat breast cancer and is now back to writing!

Coincidence? I think not!

So… In The Final Analysis:

Read whatever the fuck you want. Read what makes you happy. Read books filled with magic, love, and emotions. Live!

Tomorrow will be here soon enough.

Stuck for what to read next? Check out our Reading Recs page. And if you’d like to support our work, please consider making a donation via our Donations page. We’re trying to raise money for paid commissions, so any contribution will bring us closer to that goal. Thank you for reading!

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