Too Many Books (Is That Possible?)

The world can be divided into two groups of people:

  • Those who like to read.
  • Those who don’t.

I’m in the first group.  A perfect vacation for me would be a reading vacation.  It would involve real books (not electronic), and I’d leave my technology at home.  The sounds of waves, no interruptions, and a stack of books.

The second group associates reading with school assignments, and so the memories aren’t that positive. 

Book flow chartI recently boxed up a couple of hundred books to donate to a library.  It’s not the first time I’ve done that.  Honestly, I don’t know how I end up with so many books. 

Some people buy tools.  Some people collect photos.

I collect books.  Mostly non-fiction, though I enjoy a good fiction read now and then.

There’s kind of a “secret society” of people who like to read.  My friend Craig read 60 books last year.  My friend Joyce . . . well, I don’t think we could even count that high.

We get each other.

I’ve been thinking, though, about reading that much.  I’m wondering if reading could be addictive.

I’ve noticed that when I’m overwhelmed or stuck or tired or alone, it’s easy to grab a book.  Sometimes, when I have a huge to-do list, I get stressed about it – so I ignore it and read instead.

I probably have 30 or 40 books on my shelf with bookmarks about three chapters in.  I get started, but get distracted by the next “shiny cover” that comes along.  I find myself buying nonfiction books, but not finishing them – or at least not making application of what I’ve learned.

Reading becomes my default setting when I get stuck on anything else.  It brings me great pleasure, but I could see it interfering with real life.  In some cases, maybe it becomes an escape from a mundane or stressful life.

Is that an addiction?

I don’t have an answer, and would love to hear your thoughts. 

I have an idea.  What if we tried this process with the next nonfiction book on our list:

  1. Read the whole thing.
  2. Take notes.
  3. Decide on one thing we can do as a result of what we’ve read.
  4. Put it into action before we start reading another book.

If we read a nonfiction book but nothing changes, doesn’t that make it fiction?  We’re pretending that we’ll do something about what we’ve read.

Tell me what you think.  I’d love to hear it!

Senior Consultant at FranklinCovey; Speaker, Author of 5 books – including “People Can’t Drive You Crazy If You Don’t Give Them the Keys,” “I Wish He Had Come With Instructions,” and “Dealing With the Elephant in the Room.” (See Book page)

  • Jenni Key

    yes, yes, yes. I routinely give away 100 books every couple years and the divot is filled even as I walk back in the door. BUT! I comfort myself by thinking that I will one day bequeath my 500 children’s books to a small library in the inner city . . . and the other 3000 books in my library?? Shoot. But at least I can say that I’ve read 90% of them.
    Thank you, though, for the thought that to not act on a work of non-fiction might turn it into fiction. I’ll need to muse on that.

    • Always a treat to read your comment, Jenni – Thanks! Maybe with 3000 books, you could start your own library . . . (No, I can’t see you as a librarian . . . )

  • Ximena Melendez

    Dear Mr. Bechtle, thank you for your post. I am in the first group. I like to read a lot, especially books that will improve my life. We can find many interesting books in the stores but I think that if we have clear our personal goals, then can start to select the best books for our personal needs. This helps me not to turn my passion into addiction and to enjoy each book I read, writting what I can apply to my personal goals.

  • Kathy Collard Miller

    It’s ok if you gave away mine. I’ll hope others can benefit from them at the library.

    • OK, now that’s funny. No worries – your book stays safely on my own shelf. Maybe I’ll donate the Kindle edition to the library . . .