The Serendipitous Book Theorem

We have a lot of books.  There are books we’ve read, books we plan to read, books we’ve forgotten that we planned to read, and, frankly, books we just like having on our shelves. Books are everywhere.  We have three large bookshelves filled with books, we have stacks next to the bed, we have stacks near the couch, we have cookbooks in the kitchen.  And the advice we keep getting is that we should get Kindles.  No way.  Here’s why.

The Serendipitous Book Theorem states that the book you need to read will find you when you’re ready to read it.  Sometimes that means finding it on your own shelf.  Sometimes it means finding it on a seat on the subway.  Sometimes it’s a present from a friend.  But I don’t think it means to be queried by you, downloaded over 3G, and battery powered.

Beach Baby
Creative Commons License photo credit: turbona

At least this is what I’m telling myself as I purge our collection — if I’m supposed to read one of these books, I’ll find it again at a used bookstore in Durango or left at a trail-head in Alaska or abandoned on a beach near Point Reyes.  Or I’ll find something even better.  The point is, I don’t know what I should read any more than I know when I’ll finally get around to reading Ulysses.