The Actual Book List

180 (1)

A while back I gained some perspective when I read the blog post from Wait But Why about how much time we may have left at any given point in our lives. One of the things that rattled me (besides the fact that I may only have 20 more holidays left with certain people) is how many books I may read by the end of my life.

Life is busy and distracting, and although I like to read, I am not a fast reader and start a lot of book, yet never finish them. I typically would have 6 to 8 books on my nightstand. With a series of fits and starts I would go back and forth between all of these books, yet never finish them.

At my then pace of about 4 books per year (I am only counting actual books that I actually finished – you know all the way to the last page) at best I only had 180 books left to read.


With the millions of books in the world, and thousands being added everyday, 180 books became a scary proposition.

I used to brag about books I was reading, or books I intended to read. But those books remain unfinished.

For 2016, I decided to create a new pattern, a new approach.

I now have the actual book list.

These are books I have actually read in 2016. I write them down right after I finish and savor that last page. There is something important about that transaction. Instead of the pressure of seeing those stacks of unread books, I now have a list of what I actually did.

I am a big fan of lists. But lists, especially aspirations or dreams can feel so unattainable that those same lists that are designed to help us, can become an overwhelming burden of non-accomplishment.

The Actual Book ListInstead of a list of what I would like to accomplish, the actual book list records the progress that I actually made. There is something more satisfying about this list.

The good news: at this pace the 180 may just become 360, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself.

The real number is 4 for 2016 as of today. But even 4 in the midst of a crazy, busy, and distracted life feels like an achievement.


60 (1)

Ironically I got to speak to a group on emotional intelligence a week before the holidays. We joked about how the class was a perfect place to learn and practice before we interacted with our families and friends at various celebrations.

Stress can run high during this season, and sometimes we need Perspective.

I found that Perspective in a post called The Tail End on one of my new favorite sites that demonstrates visually a life time of events. Super Bowls left to watch, dumplings left to eat, visits to Fenway Park remaining…

What brought the most perspective was the remaining time the author projects he has remaining with his parents (5% remaining) and his siblings (15% remaining).

Perspective is when you suddenly realize that there may only be 15 or 20 more holidays together if you are lucky.

Perspective is when you remember that there are no more holidays with others.

Perspective is when you just want a little more time.

I did my own calculations with some people close to me and I realized that between holidays, and birthdays, and the 3 to 4 other times we hang out per year, I may only have 60 more times to connect with them.

That is it, 60 more days.

When someone is diagnosed with something critical, we tend to rally, connect, and spend more time in those remaining days. The small things fade away, as we try to savor those last moments that remain.

Ordinary time has a funny way of pretending to be in unlimited supply.

Perspective reminds us to not be fooled by time’s pretending.