On Learning to Mark Unfinished Books as Read

By | 8 November 2021

Over the last three or four days I have marked two books as finished despite not finishing for a simple reason. I have plenty of books on Kindle, Audible and Kobo that I need to read, but that to read all these books, would take time. I started to read one book and I stopped within pages, every time for the same reason.

In today’s context my disgust with one book is rational. For decades the web and social media have been treated as addictions, and because they have been stigmatised and seen as illnesses it becomes morally acceptable to abuse users. Look at Meta Facebook and Meta Instagram, and how they are being discussed in the news. The attitude, that social media is a drug enabled marketers, and social media owners to abuse of their addicted users, because they’re addicts, and it is their fault for becoming addicted.

That book that was written years in the past, illustrates why I was bothered by the framing of the discussion at the time, and we see the repercussions of that attitude a decade on. Words, and attitudes, matter. Social media should be treated as a means of communicating like any other. Genuine interactions between people should be encouraged. Instead the opposite is true. Four years ago I was using my real name, and meeting people in person, from social media. Today I am anonymous, because I do not trust the social media landscape that has resulted from being given over to marketers, algorithms, and groups that manufacture consent.

And now to the second book. The second book I gave up on is about someone thru hiking during the pandemic last year, and for the first few chapters I found the book, mediocre, but I continued reading it. I stopped reading it when I saw the political bias.

What I wanted, when I started reading a book about hiking during a pandemic, was to read about how the person gathered what information they could, about the virus, from reliable, not opinionated sources, for example the World Health Organisation, medical groups and more. I would have found it interesting if the person had discussed masks, doubts about continuing and striving to find reliable information.

The Beauty of Kindle Unlimited, Audible and Libraries

If we had to read and finish every book we borrowed or bought then we would be paralised by fear, and we may start reading a book, dislike it, and give up on reading forever. Thanks to libraries. Kindle Unlimited and Audible we can take as many books as we want, within reasonable limits, begin to read, and when our interests shift, start reading something else, and then something else.

We see television, film, music and other pursuits as though we can consume several programs a day. The same is true of podcasts. For some reason we live under the illusion that we must read one book at a time, but that is a false assumption. Look at schools at universities. We do not study one topic at a time. We study several in paralel. The same should be true of how we read.

We should start reading a book about topic a, and after a while start reading about topic b, before continuing with topic E. Books can, and should be read in paralel because by reading books in paralel the knowledge we gain from one book complements the knowledge we gain from another book.

I find that when I read fiction I can read through books at a quick pace, but that when I read factual books I sometimes need to read them over a period of months, or even years. They are filled with information, and sometimes that information is digestible in small parts, rather than all at once. If we read the entire book at once, we will remember less, than over time.

Now back to the core. When I lived in London I used to love spending hours in Waterstone’s looking at the bookshelves and I dreamt of having thousands of francs/pounds to spend on books but I didn’t. In university I used to love going to the library and pick up documentaries, and books, and watch them, or skim through the books. To buy every book that peaks our curiousity is expensive, so we feel that we should read and finish every book. If we can walk from village to village, and look for books that wake our curiousity, then that is great. If we were not in the middle of a pandemic then I would have picked up and started reading those books immediately, but as we can’t be as relaxed about handling books I prefer to read them on a sittee, than in bed.

If I had known about all these lending libraries then I would have taken books and dropped them off, years ago. I intend to put these books back in circulation. I could read them, take notes, and write blog posts about them, and conclude with where I dropped off the book, for the next reader.

In Borex they have something like that. Fnac, and the Borex lending library have “coup de coeur”, where people can leave a note about why they loved a book, and why others should read it. I could review books that I acquire via lending libraries.

It would benefit writers, readers and villages, with an afflux of “book tourists.” 😉

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