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Not counting books

For many people who inspire me, counting what they read is a thing on a personal or professional basis. Just like the ‘read 100 books in a year’ challenge, many of my friends and colleagues track, share, catalogue and analyse what they read. And I enjoy their reflections. I often find inspiration in what others read, and I have bought many books on the recommendation of a friend who loved it.

I enjoy it when others share their reading habits, but I don’t track what I read and I’ve been wondering why. Here are my thoughts:

Like sleep, I don’t desire to track what I read. I don’t feel that there is anything I need to know that I don’t already know without quantifying what I read.

Since I started being able to track steps, I feel like untracked steps aren’t real. Given that I leave my phone at home a lot, my digital step count does not reflect reality at all, and thus all the ways in which my devices could be ‘helpful’ or ‘insightful’ doesn’t really work. I find it mildly annoying, but not enough to start tacking a device everywhere I go. I really don’t want reading to follow that pattern.

I read a lot, and counting how much wouldn’t act as encouragement to read more.

Across different media (print, audio and digital) and several different platforms I would need to track my reading manually, which seems tedious. I am sure there is an app that can help… but then I would have to keep that up to date.

Sharing headlines like ‘this week I’ve read six trashy romance novels!’ or ‘my bedside table is drowning in sci-fi’ would be of no interest to others.

I love books, I love reading, I always have. I always read for enjoyment first and foremost no matter what the subject matter. Somehow tracking it would make it feel like work to me. Like I need to have goals, or consider whether what I read reflects all the things I should care about. I would probably start to self-censor.

One of the greatest pleasures in my life is getting lost in a story for hours or even days at a time. Sometimes I walk around reading, because I can’t put the book down. Those times are precious to me and personal. I am not sure what I would want to share that would be meaningful to anyone else.

Enjoy your reading (and please keep sharing your recommendations so that I can read more).

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