248. The Librarian Threshold

Take the number of books you bought last year. Minus that with the number of books you’ve given away. Now divide it by the number of books you’ve finished reading last year. The number you get is your Reader Index.

If your Reader Index number is more than 10, you’ve passed the Librarian Threshold.

(that’s okay, I’ve passed it a long time ago)

I’m not sure about you guys in other countries, or even in the other parts of Malaysia. But where I live in the Klang Valley, the people here buy a lot of books. I’m talking about volumes and entire series – like how I’ve heard people go Netflix binging, the denizens of the Klang Valley go on book-buying binges. With one trip to the bookstore, they’ll emerge with about 10 titles in 2 plastic bags, and most of this usually happens just before April.

Because, y’know, tax deductions and stuff.

It gets even more egregious when this certain sale called the Big Bad Wolf Book Sale comes around. When you walk into the space, you’re given a box – A BOX – to load up with books, and people usually do load their box (or boxes) full of books, because every volume is going at an average price of RM8 (that’s about USD 2.50). Why? Why not?

But books bought do not equal books read. If you took all the books in my house and stacked them one on top of the other, I’m pretty sure the stack will be twice the height of the double-storeyed terrace house in which I live. If the stack doesn’t first fall over and kill someone.

(what annoys me: when word processors do not recognize the word “storey”. My house never had 2 stories told about it – it’s not a 2-story house. It’s a 2-storeyed house, for goodness’ sake!)

I bought Mr. Gaiman’s American Gods so many years ago that the pages have turned yellow. It was only earlier this year that I found the willpower to read it from start to finish. In fact, I think in the last 3 months of being offensively bored at work, I have finished more books than I had in all of 2013. To recap:

  • Neverwhere
  • American Gods
  • KL Noir: Red
  • The Dark Tower
  • Fragile Things
  • The Storyteller
  • On Writing
  • The Wind Through The Keyhole
  • Wintersmith
  • KL Noir: White
  • The Ocean At The End Of The Lane

There’s actually double digits there. I’m happy.

(and if it looks like I’ve been reading a lot of Gaiman… Yes, I have. And I’m proud of it)

But there still remains many books that I have bought just last year: the first 5 books of A Song Of Ice And Fire; 4 anthologies; a collection of Mr. Pinter’s works; Bambi Vs. Godzilla by Mr. Mamet; The Stand and The Green Mile by Mr. King; Hidden Empire by Mr. Card; and all of John Green’s novels, minus the one titled Will Grayson, Will Grayson.

And later this evening, I will be heading out to Bangsar South to hoard more books for my collection.

As long as the volume of books purchased (after subtracting the number of books given away) exceeds the volume of books read, the unread books are just going to continue piling up, at the rate indicated by your Reader Index number. If your Reader Index number exceeded the Librarian Threshold, in no time, you’ll be fit to start a mini-library of your own, loaning books that you’ve never read away for a small fee.

(actually, that doesn’t sound like such a bad idea)

When you head out, as I will later this evening, to binge-buy books, remember your Reader Index number, and consider your proximity to the Librarian Threshold. If sitting behind a desk, reading a novel, and waiting for the late fees to roll in sounds like a great career to you, by all means, binge-buy away.

As for me, I’ll have to start working to push my Reader Index number to <1.


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