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When is a Book Done?

Right now I’m reading Changer by Matt Gemmell and it’s not going well. The language feels stilted and the characters feel more unbelievable than a book of this type normally should. I mean I never really believe that we can have a “regular person” turn into some man of mystery that globe hops while evading trained military personnel, but I find these books fun and sometimes we need light reading. Gemmell’s book in this fantasy/action genre just isn’t hitting the right notes for me though.

To that end, after working at 20% of the book I consider the book finished and I’ll be adding it to my books finished list for the year in the next few days. No I didn’t read 100% of the book, but I finished as much as I’m going to read so that counts in my book.

As many people have said, there is so much to read so don’t torture yourself with writing you don’t enjoy. If you’re done with a book because it’s not scratching the itch you have, be
done with it and don’t have guilt.

Secondly, your books read list is your list. If you want to put an issue of Spider man in the list, then do it. If you only want to consider books written before you were born as worthy of making it on your list, then you do you.

Don’t let anyone talk down to you about your reading habits or when you consider a book done. People like that have too much free time and should worry about their own shit instead of bothering people that are trying to engage in reading.

One Big Text File

Ellane wrote about using One Big Text File (OBTF) this week and pointed me to a few other posts on the same topic. I suggested that this massive text file and Ellane’s needs sounded a lot like OrgMode. Then in the comments Ellane brought up a great point, OrgMode is hard, and I entirely agree.

Emacs is often referred to as an operating system. Yes it has lots of power, and when you watch someone steeped in Emacs you can be astonished at how they use it and thus tempted to try it. Seeing how “productive” someone else is in their system is a trap though. That blog post or video isn’t showing you the day to day struggle everyone has with their tasks and notes. It’s showing you the ideal highlights and it’s easy to confuse the ideal highlights of someone else with your daily reality.

OrgMode is hard, even for people like me who spend their days in Termial/Vim/SSH managing servers. I’ve tried to get a handle on Emacs a few times and it’s going to take some real effort to dig into. I’ve tried to get a handle on a variation of OrgMode before as well, and there are issues if you want to handle notes/tasks on mobile devices that don’t come up if you use a standard task manager like Todoist, TickTick, Things 3…or whatever your preferred tool is that has a dedicated mobile application.

As I said with books, if OBTF works for you in whatever format it works, then keep using it. If you like Todoist, keep using that. It’s always easy to see the new tool someone shows off and think that it will solve all your problems with tasks. It won’t though, you’ll still have more to do than you could ever finish but you’ll first waste a bunch of time trying to learn a new tool setting you back even further.

If you like Obsidian, Evernote, Logseq…or whatever for your notes stick with that. Instead of investigating other tools spend your time reading books and taking notes.

Iceland’s a Reading Country

More than a thousand Icelandic books are published each year, and the average Icelander reads more than 2 per month. Unsurprisingly, there are bookstores in every town and in many villages.

This was a great short article on the reading culture in Iceland. Some quick stats from the article.

  • 1 in 10 Icelanders publish a book in their lifetime
  • Icelanders read around 2 books a month
  • Even in the age of Netflix and eBooks, print books are valued and the technology stuff hasn’t caught on as much