May 18, 2006

A Depressing Thought

I will never read more than .02% of the books written in my lifetime.

How do I know this? Approximately 300,000 books are written worldwide every year. I expect I will read, at most, 60 books a year over my lifetime. That's about a book a week (which is the typical college course load), plus a few extra for when I'm on vacation or sick. So if I treat pleasure reading like an extra year round college course (in addition to job, family, housework, exercise, etc.) and focus on the most recent books, I'll only read about 2 out of every 10,000 published books each year.

Does it matter that I will absorb so little of the world's knowledge over my lifetime? Perhaps I should simply focus on the best literature and be satisfied with that. But since I secretly desire to be the first person to know everything since the last person who knew everything (see candidates here and here), it is depressing how little I will ever be able to read.

On the bright side, perhaps this will be overcome by combining the complete digitization of all books ever written with some upgrades to my hardware. But my guess is that if any of this ever comes to pass, Google will likely become self-aware much sooner, making my eventual omniscience much more ordinary.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

True, true, but cheer up! How many of the 300,000 anually published books are professionally researched and written? How many have diverse, new subject matter that will actually expand the boundaries of your collective knowledge? Almost certainly a fraction...

10:44 AM  

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