For the Next Year I Will Only Read Three Books…Sort Of.

There is a good chance I read too much.

For the last 15 years I have read…on average…two books per week, with an average page count of 250 words per book.

Folks, that’s over 1500 books and 39,000 pages.

But as the pages have turned (“Like sand through the hourglass…“) I have begun to realize that despite all that reading, I haven’t retained jack. Tee up the Learning Pyramid, and I can guarantee that I haven’t even hacked my way to 5% retention.

And as I found myself opining about this very fact the other day, amidst my newest pile of library books, I discovered, and decided to participate in, Chris Brogran’s “Three Book Diet.”

The diet is simple (as most are):

Choose 3 Books to Read from November 1, 2012 to November 1, 2013, and only read those books.

Is this going to be hard? Uhh…yeah…ya think? But it’s going to be awesome!

Here are the three books (sort of) I chose (all affiliate links…I’m poor folks…buy six of each please):

1. War and Peace (Vintage Classics)

Of those 1500 books I’ve read over the last 15 years, I would guess 50 of them have been fiction (including the entire Left Behind series, which probably shouldn’t even count as books worth counting). Albeit, the first book I thought of was War and Peace. I have always wanted to read it, and now I will have the time. Plus, it’s 1000 pages long…it just might carry me through the first three months.

2. The 4-Hour Chef: The Simple Path to Cooking Like a Pro, Learning Anything, and Living the Good Life

From Tolstoy to Tim Ferriss (aliteration is not part of the plan). Frankly, I’d be ticked off if I had to wait a full year to read this book. I pre-ordered a signed copy of The 4-Hour Body (a.k.a. the only time I’ve bought a book from, and I’ve lost 40+ pounds using a hybrid slow-carb approach. I’m even going to be Tim Ferriss for Halloween…uh…wait…not really. Jokes aside, this book is going to be filled with goodies to keep me going all year long.

3. Edmund Morris’s Theodore Roosevelt Trilogy Bundle: The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Rex, and Colonel Roosevelt

Ok members of the Technical Police, I realize that this is actually three books (but Theodore does start with “T”…you have to give me that). TR is one of my favorite figures of history. In fact, when I used to stomp across the parking lot en route to my cubicle, I used to pretend I was TR stomping through some South Dakotan danger zone. But seriously, there is much to learn from TR…and he just makes me want to be a man…and go kill an animal…and eat bacon…and get shot in the middle of a speech and yell “It takes more than that to kill a bull moose!”

So that is the plan. One year, three books (sort of).

In addition I hope to review notes I have made while reading other books, and begin to further digest the things I have read.

Here’s the big question:

Could you do it?

Leave your comments below, and if my post amused you in any way…feel free to share it on the Interwebs.


5 responses to “For the Next Year I Will Only Read Three Books…Sort Of.

  1. I like your approach of picking a classic novel and a work of serious scholarship. These are books that have stood the test of time.

    Also, I’m going to check out these 4-hour books you’re recommending…

    • Thanks Chris!

      Although I gravitate towards nonfiction, I’ve found that lessons learned while reading fiction have had a huge impact on my life. Some examples include “Elmer Gantry” by Sinclair Lewis, on hypocrisy; “Les Miserables” by Victor Hugo, on grace; “Silas Marner” by George Eliot, on money; and nearly everything by Kurt Vonnegut, on the thin line between sanity and insanity.

      Will you participate in the Three Book Diet? If not, what are two of your favorite books?

  2. If this had been “The 4 Book Diet” I would have included a work of fiction. I’m not sure at what point in my life I lost interest in most fiction, but it was likely after reading several “historical fiction” novels. Bleh. I have read a couple of Andy Andrews’ books in the past year, but they are parables, not novels. If I’d been able to add one more book to the mix (btw, I don’t think your trilogy is really cheating. same topic, same author, call it a three-volume homage!), I’m pretty sure that I would have chosen one of Jane Austen’s thicker works, either _Mansfield Park_ or _Emma_. Her perspective is so totally removed from my own that I am transported in time and space by reading her work.

    • Thanks for the comment, and for affirming my choice of a trilogy!

      “Transported in time and space” is a great way to describe reading Jane Austen. At some point you must tackle “Emma.” It is wonderfully sweet, and funny.

      If you like British lit., I would strongly recommend “Jane Eyre,” by Charlotte Bronte. It’s a masterpiece.

      Read on my friend!

      • Agreed on Jane Eyre. I read it aloud to my family one particularly long, northern Maine winter, a fond memory for all. It is the only real bright spot among the works of the Bronte sisters.

        So far I have read “Persuasion” (my favorite Austen story), “Lady Susan”, and “Northanger Abbey” in full, and have read parts of her Juvenalia, “Emma”, and “Pride and Prejudice”, along with seeing nearly all of the extant “period drama” movies of Austen’s works. My daughter is a serious period drama blogger (, and I share her fondness, if not her level of passion, for Miss Jane. BTW, she is also a Le Mis fan, but I have not developed that taste. Dickens, on the other hand…

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