Sunday, June 3, 2018

Are We The Books We Read?

Maybe the world is mapped and accounted for in the wrong way.  Perhaps we haven’t adequately profiled the planet the way it really needs to be.

Think about it.  All kinds of books of statistics, demographics, and facts seek to sum up life in a neat way -- who we are and what our world is -- but I think we are the undefined, the unquantifiable, the unrecorded. It is that very image that we really need to formulate if we are to adequately fix the world.

All too often we look to data and formulas to craft a picture of things.  We divide people by so many factors – gender identity race, religion, sexual preferences, size, wealth, geography etc.  There’s our health and genes.  There’s the fact of being a dog owner or having two siblings or being a vegan.  If you look at enough data points of our physical status, mental faculties, I.Q., history of behavior, and other factors, one can create a profile of you and possibly predict your behaviors and views under certain circumstances.  Marketers, sociologists, politicians, and psychologists depend on such predictability in order to cash-in, plan cities, save lives, or prevent disasters – not to mention decide elections and other important events.

Can we simply tell who someone is by the books he or she reads, assuming such data could be accumulated in a single database?

Think of all the sources you have for books:

·         Schools
·         Libraries
·         Purchase from stores, Amazon, elsewhere
·         Borrow from a friend
·         Steal
·         Find
·         Receive as a gift
·         While visiting a house or hotel
·         Free copies handed to you or found online

Could an accurate and complete list be kept?  If so, what would it say about that person?

Just because one comes across a book doesn’t mean he reads it – fully or at all – and just because he reads it doesn’t mean he agrees with all or any of it.

Does the order or age in which you read matter?  What you read at age 15 as a school assignment is not the same as what you select to read at that age.  And if you read a book and it’s only the tenth book you’ve read vs. your 300th, will it impact you differently than if the order of what your read was switched?

Still, we will draw some conclusions about people based on what they read – and especially about what they don’t read.  If your bookshelf is devoid of books on Christian heroes, horses, knitting, slavery, or fishing, some conclusions can be made.  And if you have read only 20 books by age 30 vs. 200, other conclusions can be made.

Still, regardless of our book detective work, we must realize that the sampling is incomplete, in part because many of us have not exposed ourselves to books we may like, even love, in part because of money, convenience, ignorance, prejudice, misinformation, and a hundred other reasons.

I will say this: We are the books we read.  But it’s a temporary definition.  The minute you read another book, who we are changes.  We are made better, smarter, and more by reading another book. Who we become may end up being different from who we’ve been or seem to be, and the books we read contribute a big piece to how we are defined and how we define the world around us.

We are only as good as the fantasies we contemplate, the experiences we have, the wisdom we ascertain from others, and the environmental models we surround ourselves with.  

Read a book, and take a step closer to who you really are.  But don’t always think you know someone by the books they read.

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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2018. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by as a "best resource.”

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