There’s a wonderful conceit to the phrase “I wish I had time to read.”
For one, it’s a little known fact that every chronically-busy person throughout human history wishes they had more leisure time. While their own willful actions and priorities deny them this pleasure, it is part of carrying oneself as chronically-busy to long for the contrary. Bonus points for sighing afterwards.
For two, it’s a widely known fact that every reasonably-thoughtful person throughout human history wishes to be regarded as someone who reads for pleasure. No matter one’s private hedonism, the knowledge that another merely perceives you as someone who retreats into the written word carries a contented-if-enabling buzz of monastic importance. After all, anyone can watch TV. But it is you - the ubermensch, the Atlas-who-shrugs – who chooses to spend their leisure time exerting effort (pages don’t scan themselves) in an apparently-productive activity that deserves praise. In this case, the bonus points are self-evident.
And last but not least, for three: it’s a blatant fact that no one throughout human history has ever uttered the phrase “I wish I had time to read” in private. Simply put, it would fall on deaf ears.
No, like Mother Theresa’s charities or an expired copyright, “IWIHTTR” exists exclusively for public benefit.
When thrown into the public sphere, wishing one had time to read accomplishes little more than a sanctioned ego-yank (see: wonderful conceit). What it certainly doesn’t do is create time to read. That’s why, when I was frustrated with how little I had read during my first semester at the Ross School of Business last fall (see: chronically-busy), I did something truly radical: I kept it to myself.
In January 2016, I quietly resolved to read whatever books I found interesting whenever time allowed. No weekly page goals, no “100 to Read” lists, just autopilot. On December 29, nearly one year later, I finished what will likely be my last book for the year. And, for the first time since January, I decided to check where autopilot had steered.
Instead of doing a full review for each of the 27 books I read in 2016, I (and my sleep schedule) thought it’d be more fun to do short summaries of each. Considering I averaged about 1 book every 2 weeks, 2 sentences seemed a proper fit.
Wishing you had time to read? Here’s 27 books, condensed for your schedule: