Reading: could do better

As a lapsed gamer, references on the YakYak forum to ‘leaderboards’ have generally gone over my head, but today I found the term used in a context I could relate to. Adding the ‘Visual Bookshelf’ application to my Facebook profile I got up to a total of 57 titles before starting to struggle (and if it hadn’t been for the marvellous Russell Hoban I doubt I could even have reached 50 so quickly). To be fair, I’m sure there are more. At least I hope there are, as the application (somewhat fatuously) has a leaderboard, at the top of which is some bloke called Mark Woodland who looks like a member of Deep Purple and claims to have read 4,291 books. I suppose when you think about it, it’s not that amazing really. He looks to be in his early forties, if Facebook profile pics are anything to go by, which they aren’t, so even if he’s been reading for a total of 40 years, that’s an average of two books a week – a fair number, but not, I hear, impossible. I’ve never been a promiscuous kind of bloke in any sense, choosing and reading books like most reasonable people have personal relationships – waiting for a good one to come along rather than blindly jumping into them, enjoying their company, learning from them, giving them time to see what they have to say, savouring their secrets. Certainly I’ve re-read several books many times. Still, 57 does look a bit feeble for someone who’s been reading for 30 years. As Woody Allen (bless ‘im) said in the wonderful Love and Death, ‘It’s the quality, not the quantity, of your sexual relations that counts. Then again, if the quantity falls below once every two and half years, I would definitely look into it.’