He’s read 6,128 books…

Joe-Queenan, The-Wall-Street-Journal, ColumnistHe’s Joe Queenan, a columnist at The Wall Street Journal.  He started reading when he was 7 years old.  Fifty-five years later, he has read 6,128 books.  He “hopes to get through another 2,137 books before he dies.”

He often “reads dozens of books simultaneously.”  “(He) starts a book in 1978 and finishes it 34 years later.” 

He states that “a case can be made that people who read a preposterous number of books are not playing with a full deck.  I prefer to think of us as dissatisfied customers.  If you have read 6,000 books in your lifetime, or even 600, it’s probably because at some level you find ‘reality’ a bit of a disappointment.”

He reads “mostly fiction for at least two hours a day” and “also spends two hours a day reading newspapers and magazines gathering material for his work.”  He “reads books in all the obvious places – in his house and office, on trains and buses and planes – and also at plays, concerts and prizefights, and not just during the intermissions.”  

He says that he’s “never squandered an opportunity to read.  There are only 24 hours in the day, seven of which are sleeping, and in his view at least four of the remaining 17 must be devoted to reading. I once read ‘Tortilla Flat’ during a nine-hour Jerry Garcia guitar solo on ‘Truckin’.”

He does “not speed read books; its seems to defeat the whole purpose of the exercise, much like speed-eating a Porterhouse steak or applying the two-minute drill to sex.”

He “almost never reads biographies or memoirs.”  He “avoids inspirational and self-actualization books; if he wanted to read a self-improvement manual, he would try the bible.”  Unless paid, he would never read books by or about businessmen or politicians; these books are interchangeably cretinous and they all sound exactly the same: inspiring, sincere, flatulent, deadly.  Reviewing them is like reviewing brake fluid: They get the job done, but who cares?”

This is a fascinating Wall Street Journal article titled My 6,128 Favorite Books which should be read in its entirety as I’ve only clipped a handful of nuggets.  The article was adapted from Queenan’s book titled “One for the Books” which will be published this week.

If you are interested in reading another excerpt from this article, hit this link: My Philosophy is simple: Certain Things Are Perfect the way they are. Queenan gives his view on a physical book vs. Kindle.  Terrific…

Source: Wall Street Journal –  My 6,128 Favorite Books

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  1. Love this, David! What an inspiration. Thanks for sharing!


    • Thanks Christian. I too was inspired by the article and his life story. (Yet, it is inspiring in a compulsive, addictive, disfunctional sort of way.) If you get a chance to read the entire article, please do so. I didn’t do it justice with my excerpts. I’m picking up his book. Be curious what the family life is like.


  2. Wow….I’ve read a couple of hundred, (unfortunately, I have not been keeping a tally)…and I thought I was normal reading 3-4 at a time.


  3. I’m not quite that obsessive about reading, but I do agree that I read because on some level I am dissatisfied with reality and I bet that’s true for most readers.


  4. Wow, I’m kind of overwhelmed at just the thought of that number……perhaps I enjoy reality too much?!


  5. I love to read books. Sometimes i’m good to read several pages, sometimes I can’t make it through a sentence without falling asleep, but I still prefer to read over watching any type of other media. I have read a lot of books (haven’t really kept count) but unfortunately I can’t just read a book to just read it, I have to read it slowly and digest what it is that i’m reading and then I find as many ways I can to re-interpret what I have read. I like to write so I do this as an exercise to read and re-write. Have a great day.

    Visit Leadertank.com for Leader tips, tools, techniques, and resources.


    • Hi Terry. I’m a voracious reader. Like attacking ice cream. Can’t say that I have your discipline of reading slowing and chewing your food multiple times – making sure that you digest it. I have work to do here.


  6. “It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.” – Oscar Wilde


  7. That has to be the quote of the week:

    “these books (by or about businessmen or politicians) are interchangeably cretinous and they all sound exactly the same: inspiring, sincere, flatulent, deadly. Reviewing them is like reviewing brake fluid: They get the job done, but who cares?”

    I love it! Especially as I am someone who tends to read a lot of business books!

    Thanks, this has got me thinking. Again, dammit.


  8. But for a very select few books about leadership, I would agree with his perspective about business people and politicians. I’m staggered by his sheer reading volume (pun intended) – I”m a reader but he re-defines the term,


  9. I am not alone in reading 4-5 books at a time. Depending on the day & how I feel or need is what gets read. Also I am still 90% book…10% iPad. Something about the feel of that book in hand. Very interesting article today. Thanks Dave.


  10. LaDona's Music Studio says:

    Great article – thanks for excerpting it. I love Dracula’s “real” motive – keep sucking all that blood to extend life to get through the reading list. (And I read the book).
    I also like the bit about certain things – like books – being perfect the way they are. Good inspirational start to the week.


  11. LaDona's Music Studio says:

    From the world of Twitter: “Picking five favourite books is like picking the five body parts you’d like not to lose.” ~ Neil Gaiman


  12. I am seeing two thought processes described here. Those that read to escape their reality and those that read to enhance their reality. I am of the latter group, reading to learn new things, not so much to be entertained….RJV


  13. Reblogged this on photographyofnia.


  14. We get the print edition of the WSJ delivered every day and I did in fact see this article.
    I am no longer at all the reader I once was even though I probably have the time.
    Strange isn’t it? So many things to compete for our time these days it seems.



  1. […] He’s read 6,128 books… (davidkanigan.com) […]


  2. […] on a blog I follow: Lead. Learn.Live maintained by David Kanigan.  Dave's blog was titled: "He's Read 6128 Books" […]


  3. […] He’s read 6,128 books… (davidkanigan.com) […]


  4. […] article on a blog I follow: Lead.Learn.Live maintained by David Kanigan.  Dave's blog was titled: "He's Read 6128 Books"  […]


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