I haven’t met anybody as devoutly fanatic about books as I am in real life. This love of mine can turn aggressive, even generously self-depreciative, which is a source of concern. I maintain a digital library simply because there won’t be enough room for all the books if I build for myself a physical library (Now you know how to impress me 😉). I spend literally hours fretting about organization, intensely debating with myself what parameters to organize under, designing programs to maintain a catalog, devising makeshift ways to register progress and so on.
The most painful task for me, however, is choosing what book to read next. Bear with me if this sounds ridiculous. It is less ridiculous than what most people do these days. Hours of negotiation goes into deciding what to read next. To ensure I utilize my time optimally. This might seem trivial but it isn’t. Imagine picking up a book that required pre-requisite knowledge. Reading it is wasting time because nothing registers. So, it boils down to a dependency problem. But that can be solved with trees? One problem: Those trees can get very large. Pruning? No, what we need is prudent decision making.
Interest. I am human and a reckless reader. If I lose interest in a book, I’ll leave it right then, no questions asked. So, I have to make sure I pick up only those books that I want to read.
Utility. For eg, I love Harry Potter. Let me put away my current read and pour over the entire HP universe? No. The next question is: How much utility will I derive from the book I am about to read? Is it a good investment? Will it help me in acheiving my goals?
Experts. I believe we are the greatest fools if we can’t learn from the mistakes of those who already committed them. In terms of books, I look up to what others suggest. Mostly, the old and wise are eager to share their knowledge.
Content. This is me getting judgemental. If I have a chose between a finely written old masterpiece and a lousily written contemporary masterpiece, I’ll probably go with the old one. I can’t stand poor writing. I want to derive more than just the concepts. But what if the new book has more relevant ideas? As I said, it isn’t always easy.
I read multiple books together. So, I devised a so-called “reader’s portfolio” – a term borrowed from investing. It is a bunch of categories and I actively endeavor to maintain that proportion in my current readings.
- Culture & Geography
- Fundamental Sciences
All these elaborate schemes are far from perfect and I know it. But at least, it’s a start. These crude ideas give me a basic idea of where I should be headed so that I don’t go crazy.