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Climbing Mount Tsundoku: On Acquiring More Books Than It’s Possible to Read

James Davis Nicoll: “One of my little projects last year was something I modestly called “Twenty Core [Subgenre] Speculative Fiction Works Every True SF Fan Should Have On Their Shelves.” Reading is a huge part of my life. Thanks to my freakish cognitive architecture, I read quickly, and thanks to the fact I am as gregarious as a stylite, I have the time to read prodigiously. Putting together the core lists was an amusing application of my resources and yet in amongst all the lists, readers found Twenty Core Speculative Fiction Works It May Surprise You To Learn I Have Not Yet Read Every True SF Fan Should Have On Their Shelves. It’s worse than that list may at first appear. Not only have I not read any of the books on the list, despite the fact that I’ve owned copies of a number of the books in question since their first publication, but that list is only the tip of the iceberg—only the first twenty examples that came to mind. I am not engaging in a highly inefficient attempt to better insulate my library. I always intend to read books when I buy them. At the same time, I do have a faint, primordial consciousness that time is finite and that I am limited to about 180,000 words of fiction a day[1] and sufficient rudimentary math skills to work out that if I acquire more than 180,000 words of prose a day, then some of those words won’t get read that day. They might not ever get read. Poor sad, unread words…”

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