Books Magazine

What Does It Mean To Be “Well Read?”

By Robert Bruce @robertbruce76

Someone recently told me I was “well read,” which I find interesting. The whole reason I started 101 Books was because I felt like I wasn’t “well read” enough, whatever that means.

So now that I’ve read nearly 70 books in four years, am I well read all of the sudden?

Seriously? That’s all it takes–70 books in four years?

According to Google, 129 million books have been published in the history of the history. 129 million!

Now, I’m no math guy. In fact, I suck at math. But even I know that 70 out of 129 million is a pretty small number. It’s actually .00000054263566 to be exact. I don’t even know what that number is except that it’s a tiny, tiny, tiny bit larger than zero.

Look, guys, I’m not well read. In fact, I suck at being well read–at least if you’re judging by quantity of books.

So what does it mean to be well read?

In my estimation, I believe it has very little to do with the quantity of books you read. Would you say a Harlequin addict is well read? Probably not.

I believe it’s all about the diversity in your reading choices.

Someone who only reads nonfiction is not well-read. I’m looking at you nonfiction snobs. And someone who only reads Stephen King novels isn’t well read either.

But what if you only read fiction without ever dabbling in nonfiction…are you “well read?” Probably not.

Anyway, that’s my interpretation. Over the course of my life, I’ve read a great deal of both nonfiction and fiction–so maybe I’m closer to being well read than I think. Although, obviously, the last 4 years have been all fiction.

So are you “well read?” How do you define it?


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