Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Wild Idea

I was just thinking about list reading and the old mechanism of designating TBR (To Be Read) from ARI (Already Read It). You know how we maintain our lists with some code such as "TBRs are in green (or bold or whatever) and the ones I've read are in red (or italics or whatever)"?

Remember those memes that went around a while ago, where you took a particular list and indicated which books you'd read, before passing the list on to others so they could do the same?

What if we passed the list around with everyone's reading accomplishments on it, cumulatively?

I wonder if we could complete an entire list of, say, all Booker prize winners and nominees, just by pooling the reading accomplishments of ourselves and our friends and acquaintances. Maybe no one has read all of them, but together we might have.

Either that, or we'd get stuck calling plaintively out to the Universe, "Doesn't anybody know anybody who's read The Battle of Pollocks Crossing*?

I'm not a big fan of chain letters or memes, so I'm not proposing we do this. I just think it's an interesting idea, the listreader's equivalent of pondering how many angels can dance on the head of a pin or exploring the six degrees of Kevin Bacon.

What do you think the chances are? Could it be that between all of us, we've read everything?

*Man Booker shortlist, 1985


  1. EVERYTHING! I doubt it. A whole lot, for sure. Are we sticking just to English here?

  2. I was only thinking of English, but there's no reason to limit the questions to English.

    Surely every book has been read at least once, post-publication. Right???

  3. That could actually be fun. I know at work we talk about books (that's what happens when you eat with the English department) and I'm always surprised at the number of books that I have never heard of - let alone read. We have an ongoing list on the wall of the team room of books we recommend.

  4. Ha, I love it. I would be contributing some really obscure adventure novels from the turn of the century to the collective wisdom.


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