bookwormariffic batman
March 18, 2003 9:54 AM   Subscribe

What I Have Read well not me personally, but some guy has a bunch of stats/info on every book he has read since 1974, all 2031 of em..
posted by zeoslap (18 comments total)
Like being a book porn star -- we all wish we could read that much but if not we can at least watch.
posted by stbalbach at 10:05 AM on March 18, 2003

16 days to read a David Sedaris book and yet finished with The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt in 5 days? Of course, page count is meaningless unless you account for typography. And then there are those pesky careful readers who dare to spend weeks perusing a book.
posted by ed at 10:22 AM on March 18, 2003

I wish I had time to read 44.33 pages per day.

I have been tracking my reading with PocketLibrary, a handy Palm app. Last year I read 35 books (not counting the ones I read to my kids at bedtime, etc).

Trouble is I just don't have time enough to read like I wish.
posted by jazon at 10:26 AM on March 18, 2003

I am fascinated by attempts to quantify day to day activities. I've recently started a couple of similar projects. One is more less budgeting on steroids (handicapped by my inability to grok double-entry accounting). Another is tracking price-per-unit grocery purchases, partly to comparison shop, but also just to see what we keep buying week after week. Finally, there's also a slow-moving mileage spreedsheet, that maybe can also look at cost of gas per mile.
posted by claxton6 at 10:30 AM on March 18, 2003

If you want to:
a) read more
b) learn something
c) do something useful for the mankind

all of that at the same time (3x1 !)

try this link

Distributed Proofreaders

The name may sound scary, but what you'll do is helping Project Gutenberg create more and more free electronic books. They currently have a few thousands if my math is right. Oh and yes they're free, the way they should always be. I helped by proofing 332 pages, but help on this neverending project is always needed.
posted by elpapacito at 10:46 AM on March 18, 2003

It seems that he was reading the same series of books at the same time that I was. I hope he enjoyed them as much as I did back then.
posted by grum@work at 10:46 AM on March 18, 2003

This is cool! I personally have keep a list of what I have read since 1987. Though I've never tabulated the results the way this guy has. Zeoslap thanks so much for the wonderful link.
posted by tljenson at 11:20 AM on March 18, 2003

I wish I had time to read more. Of course, when I do have time to read, I often fall asleep with book in hand. Ah, the joy of working two jobs and going to school full time. Maybe this summer...
posted by wondergirl at 11:42 AM on March 18, 2003

Librarians everywhere are applauding Mr. Leuliette. Bravo, sir!
posted by Lynsey at 11:57 AM on March 18, 2003

ed, I keep a similar list so I know that it didn't necessarily take this guy sixteen days to read a David Sedaris book and only five days to read The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt.

He only lists the dates he finished books, not the dates that he started them. Sometimes I have multiple books going at once, so that it can look as if I've read several books in just a few days. This is rarely the case. Sometimes I finish several books within days of each other, though.
posted by jdroth at 12:37 PM on March 18, 2003

I did this for four years in my teens...with similar statistics. Though I cross referenced by genre rather than source. I'm considering spending a year reading the same books in the same order as I did my 18th year. Why? Because I kept those pesky little 3x5 cards and I wonder how much I'll remember. I just don't know if I can average almost a book-a-day anymore.

Lynsey: The librarians I know are horrified he published his list. Of course, they're a cautious lot.
posted by ?! at 12:55 PM on March 18, 2003

Doesn't anyone find this a tad bit conceited and pompous, like, "look at me, how much smarter I am than you!" I know I'm a bit grumpy and cynical at times, but I could really not give two shits what some random stranger read in 1983. I've read a hell of a lot of books in my day myself, but I don't publish public records of them! How much of this is he retaining anyway?
posted by Pollomacho at 1:02 PM on March 18, 2003

jdroth: Quite true. I used to keep (and publicly post) a similar system that displayed the state of my two bookpiles and what books were in my bag every week. Sort of a way for me to have a backup in case anyone ever accidentally knocked over my pile.

It was an Illustrator file in which I simply moved up the titles. But I found that a better (and less paranoid) way to track the books I read is to simply place the finished books in a separate "I Read This" pile at the foot of my desk. I now revolve the rotation and place the bottom books back into their respective bookshelf slots every month. This has become a tenable method to get a sense of how much I read, particularly when my careful sweeps sometimes make the reading of a book feel terribly slow (particularly if the book sucks and I reluctantly carry to the end).

Beyond typography, the respective thicknesses of the tomes are also a bit misleading. There are some areas of my bookshelves, in which I stack up books lengthwise and vertically. And then I simply take one of the bottom book from a number of piles if I need new reading. (These are generally the more recently purchased books.)

All this, of course, is the result of an unsound mind that likes to apply strange procedure to media consumption.

Pollomacho: To an extent, you may be correct. Publicly posting what you read is in part a form of exhibition, deferring privacy to a vaguely sentient Hoover. At the same time, lists, beyond the insipid AFI film lists or santimonious compilations proffered by snotty English professors, are a very helpful way of tracking an individual's tastes, should the individual be willing. Not the limitations offered by collaborative filtering, but a quick glance to see just where someone stands or what they're interested in.

Of course, Leuliette's list, much like Art Garfunkel's, doesn't offer a lot in the way of thought or opinion on the tomes. As such, it is perhaps best parsed by an audience of automatons.
posted by ed at 1:15 PM on March 18, 2003

Doesn't anyone find this a tad bit conceited and pompous

I might find it a bit amusingly anal that he keeps such detailed statistics about number of pages, but I don't see how it's either conceited or pompous. Maybe it's just the most fun way for him to keep track of what he's read, and I sure wish that I had some record of everything I read back when I spent a lot more time reading it.

As for how much he's retaining, perhaps he's retaining a little bit more by keeping records. And if you really don't give two shits, all you have to do is not read his site.
posted by anapestic at 1:19 PM on March 18, 2003

One of my favorite online personalities is a guy who goes by the pseudonym "Valentine Michael Smith." Yes from Heinlein's famous Stranger in a Strange Land. He got started on the net writing Commentaries on changes in Communist Countries in 1991 and was known for his good insights about the first Gulf War, and for the large number of books he has read in his life (over 30,000, I believe). Soon he had his an e-list, "Val-l", that he operated under the rules of an old fashioned thinking salon. It's gone through some hard times, but in general, it is still going strong today as a functioning e-list community. Among his other writings is a seminal list of books, now at 1500, that VMS believes you 'might' want to read.
posted by IndigoSkye at 1:28 PM on March 18, 2003

I keep a book log, but it is just a list of titles. That bare minimum does help, though. I often forget titles but retain a "feel" for when I read something, so I can go back and look the title up. This is great for when friends come over and ask me what I've been reading.

Best book I read last month: Empire Falls.
Best Book I read last week: Poisonwood Bible. This led me to the book I am reading at the moment, The Troubled Heart of Africa: A History of the Congo
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:38 PM on March 18, 2003

pollomacho: You've gotta find every single personal web page creator "a tad bit conceited and pompous" then. Every person who attempts to set or break a Guinness record would also into your group of C&P.

I bet he's just one of those people who likes to keep lists and he's just better (or more determined) than most. Plus, he has some programming skills that make it easy for him to post it on the web.

As for making stats out of his list: thats common with some people. SABR, Waxy, and CI are just three other examples of making statistics out of molehills.
posted by ?! at 4:12 PM on March 18, 2003

You've gotta find every single personal web page creator "a tad bit conceited and pompous" then.

Why? I didn't say creating a website was conceited, I said publishing a list of what you have read was, big difference. Publishing photos of little Suzy on your website so Grandma and Aunt Sally can see them is neither conceited nor pompous, publishing the list of books may be, just like publishing how much money you make, how well you did on a standardized test or how large your penis is. Maybe I'm reading too much into this guy's motivations, but if random statistics were his bag, he could have listed the number of pennies he put in his change jar each day or how many times he had to tie his shoes. If the list is for memory retention or organization purposes, does it really have to be public?

Thanks for the advice anapestic, I won't be going back, but I do like to come to MetaFilter so I was confronted with his site and decided to comment about it, just as MetaFilter is designed.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:02 AM on March 19, 2003

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