My Netflix-inspired reading plan

Learning from Netflix, I’m changing how I read books. Netflix sends movies one at a time from a list you choose on Netflix.com, but you only ever have two or three movies at home. This works because people can only watch one movie at a time, and usually only one or two in a week, and you’ve always got the one you most want to watch at home. In addition, once you’ve watched a movie, you rarely need (or want) to watch it again. Books are similar in their use–but even heavier and more space-consuming, as my bulging bookcases can attest.

So I’m getting rid of all the books that I haven’t read yet, and most of the ones I have–leaving just the one or two books I’m currently reading. Then whenever I finish a book, I get rid of it (transcribing any notes online) and order the book I most want to read, in the entire world, next.

Some books are different–reference books, sentimental favorites, gifts, Bibles. But most non-fiction books and novels are best read once, then later accessed via shared notes, which is a better way of remembering information anyway. There’s really no need to have the dead tree edition of those on your shelf.

Turns out that in the Age of Information, books are pretty easy to find when you need them–you don’t have to keep them all at your fingertips. I’m planning to donate all my read books to the library, so that owning them becomes someone else’s problem (and, hopefully, joy), and so that if I ever need to reference it again, I know exactly where I can find a free copy. Thanks Netflix!