2013 New Year’s Revelatory If Not Revolutionary Reading Resolutions; or, How Much Crap Do You Have To Read? January 7, 2013 – Posted in: A Picture's Worth, Blog, Featured Columns

Pop culture and other perspectives with an artistic P.O.V. By Mike Pascale.
All contents ©2012 Mike Pascale. Visual content ©2012 their respective owner(s).

 
Today we’re talking about math. What does that have to do with art or comics?

Lots!

I’m assuming most of you reading this are fellow collectors of various pop-culture ephemera or at least fellow readers of printed (and digital) matter. How much have you accumulated? More importantly, how long will it take you to read it ALL? Or at least what you want to read most?

Recently, I tackled the task, as daunting and depressing as it is, to figure that out for myself.

At my current rate—reading only at breakfast and bathroom breaks—reading the three main components of my library would take me close to the end of my expected natural average lifespan. To wit:

Comic books: 2 to 3 years.
Magazines: 6 or 7 years.
Books: 12 to 24 years.

TOTAL: 20 to 34 YEARS OF READING MATERIAL…and that’s after trading away over 10,000 comics & mags when I moved out west!

 

My “wanna read now” book piles, at various rooms around the house.

My “wanna read now” book piles, at various rooms around the house.

(Why the discrepancy for the books category? I have two main types: text and art. Some I’d want to read all the text, others, just ogle the art and read the captions. For instance, I have about ten books on Michelangelo. I don’t need to actually read all of them. A couple would be enough to give me the biographical/background info I want; I’ve no desire to read some pompous critic or pedantic historian’s “analysis” or worse, “critique”. The rest of the tomes I would just study each and every picture and read only the captions. The former could take me three to four weeks each and the latter a week or two, depending on size.)

 

Michelangelo and other artist books…Can’t read ‘em all.

Michelangelo and other artist books…Can’t read ‘em all.

Keep in mind, those are not for my entire collection; these are only the ones I want to read the most and the soonest. And assuming I never bought another thing to read again!

Yeah, right. Considering I have subscriptions to three newsletters and three magazines, attend an antique show or book sale about once a month during spring and summer, and my store-owner-pal in Michigan has a paper auction every quarter, I’m pretty much screwed.

 

Most recent reading acquisitions from the last two months.

Most recent reading acquisitions from the last two months.

 

All that would take me to my 70s or 80s. By then, much of it wouldn’t be too relevant or enjoyable. (A little late to blog about “that great artist book by my pal Blake Bell” when the artist has become nearly forgotten and we’re both in retirement homes.)
How did I get in this state? Well, originally, it was all part of my grand retirement plan formulated when I was a kid. Since I don’t fish or whittle, I figured I’d just sit and read most of the day, and watch TV at night. Then came the Internet, email, Facebook, DVDs, and even worse, DVRs. (If I watched all the DVDs I own, eight hours a day, it would take me two years. Ugh.)

Of course, none of that allowed for the fact that I want (and probably have to) work for the rest of my life. I can’t just sit around and just read—I feel way too guilty. Add in the “collector” mentality along with used book stores, library sales, garage sales, estate sales, antique fairs, flea markets, and eBay, and there’s the recipe for eternal reading material.

 

My comics reprints-to-read section.

My comics reprints-to-read section.

 

So—now that it’s a new year—I have to make a resolution here. (It’s said that if you make a resolution in public, you’ll be more motivated to keep it. We’ll see.) In order to get that number down to a manageable, realistic size and truly enjoy what I’ve acquired, more than just having the pleasure of owning it, I resolve to:

1. Read faster. I bought a book on speed-reading last year, and if I can just double my reading speed, I can cut my needed time in half.

2. Increase the daily allotment of reading time. If I added just a half hour each day, I could read an entire comic book, maybe two (unlike normal people, I usually study each panel, figure and background, which means it takes a good half hour to read most comics, unless they’re SAD SACK, ARCHIE or funny animal stuff…except Barks’ duck comics, of course). Magazines like MAD only take a couple days, but thick, text-heavy interview- and/or article-based ones like ALTER EGO or THE COMICS JOURNAL take forever.

 

Text-magazine” (non MAD or comics-format) boxes--probably 75 percent unread.

Text-magazine” (non MAD or comics-format) boxes–probably 75 percent unread.

 

 

If I can accomplish both goals, I could easily shave off a decade or more. Of course, something else would have to be cut back. I’d love to cut down on Internet stuff, but truth is, my email inbox is now up to 2,000 due to cutting back. (And that’s my daily, “work” inbox. My “personal” one on Yahoo! Is at 22,222 unread emails. No typo.)

Hmmm…

Maybe I can farm out my blog to someone overseas.

Next week: “A Picture’s Worth” by Tarbash. (You may need Google Translator.)

Best,
Mike

P.S.: So what about you? How much do YOU have to read? Please tell me I’m not alone.

P.P.S.: I’m still planning on spending all the time needed to give you a kick-ass commission, as the money lets me buy more crap to read. So get your order in now–just ask Craig here!

 

 

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