I recently wrote about my love of books, buying and reading them. But I completely forgot to mention the type of books and the challenge of selecting which ones to read and which ones to miss.

Unlike other forms of media, books tend to require a more significant investment of time to complete. You can watch a film in two or three hours. Most reasonably sized books will take twice that, if not much longer, and that’s for an easy-to-read novel. If you’re reading something more complex, it will take longer to process.

It’s also a matter of priorities, I suppose. Film buffs understand technical things like aspect ratios and camera angles. They are more likely than an average person to have high-quality home cinema equipment, and they probably watch more classic movies than the rest of us. That’s what they value, so they make an effort to expose themselves to the best that cinema has to offer. I don’t care about film that much. I enjoy movies, but I don’t know much about them, and I’m okay with that. I value books, so I try to expose myself to excellent pieces of writing.

Because of this, I am selective about the books I spend my time on. There is only so much time I can spend reading and so many books that I can read in my life. If we make a pretty optimistic estimate that I can get through one book per week for the rest of my life, that is likely to be somewhere around 52 x 60 = 3120 books I have time to read. That’s not so large a number that I can read everything I come across.

Your mileage may vary, but for me, it’s crucial to try to read only the books that I am most interested in or those from which I expect to get the most value.