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#3 In 2014: What Does It Mean To Be “Well Read?”

* 101 Books is out of office this week. But all week I am featuring the top 5 most popular NEW posts (by traffic) in 2014. I’ll return with new posts on January 5. 

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?

16 Comments Post a comment
  1. thereadersammy #

    Oh my god ! Your are truly correct ! I couldnt agree more , and this post jumps out to me as pure truth ! Its about the diversity and quality of reading !

    Liked by 1 person

    December 31, 2014
  2. kirstsombrilla #

    Reblogged this on beautiful soul. and commented:
    2015 will hopefully be the year I begin my quest to be “well read”. This post is interesting… Perhaps it isn’t about reading all the classics, being able to converse with others on popular literature. Being well read could mean being diverse in what I read, maybe being able to educate…


    December 31, 2014
  3. tylowery #

    I think you can be well read even if you focus on a specific genre of books. You’d be well read in horror novels, or young adult paranormal whatever, but you’d have a vast enough knowledge to be able to take about it readily with just about anyone.

    Now, can you be well read about everything? Not in the least. Like you’ve pointed out, there’s just too much stuff out there to be. Now, a lot of people imagine a well read person to have read all of the classics, which is fair I guess, but if they come to a contemporary meeting, or even to a weekend book club, they might as well be trying to talk shop with a bunch of gear heads.

    Liked by 2 people

    December 31, 2014
  4. Reblogged this on dunjav.


    December 31, 2014
  5. I am only short in the classics. I read 80-90 books a year, all kinds, and i am working my way through the classics along the way.


    December 31, 2014
  6. Good post! I don’t read much nonfiction so perhaps I am not well read. 🙂 I am trying to diversify my reading choices in the new year.


    January 1, 2015
  7. Id say i was relatively well read i read 250 books ish a year 300 this year across a range of genres and i love non fiction, fiction, classics and graphic novels


    January 1, 2015
  8. I think your approach to one that is well-read works in a broad sense. I like what you are saying, but I think there are those who are well-read in a particular area of literature. For example, I’m personally trying to pick up more classics. In a few years, I might be well-read in the classics, but not in sci-fi. Great post. It strikes an interesting conversation.


    January 1, 2015
  9. 70 out of 129 million is quite a bit of perspective. I feel as if I’ll never get caught up! LOL. I’m just going to keep on reading and hope that eventually at least I will feel that I am well read. What a great topic!


    January 3, 2015
  10. Reblogged this on slaptoreality.


    January 4, 2015
  11. I think one can never be enough read. no matter what you reed or how much information you can remember. Reading is a neverending story And it should allways be that way. Besides, ain’t in a bit snob to think of oneself to be well read?


    January 5, 2015
  12. kleobooks #

    I really liked your article. I only started reading properly a few years ago and feel I have missed out on so many books. I always feel like I need to read more and more. I don’t think anyone can truly be well read because most people read a narrow selection of books. I strive to be well read even though it’s a target I know I will never achieve.


    January 5, 2015
  13. I think to be well read you have to be able to speak to some of the major books in quite a few different genre’s or a lot in a particular genre like english classics. 129 million wow thats alot and as a writer its making me feel super small. Lol


    January 14, 2015
  14. That is so correct! I totally agree 🙂 Mostly, I read books that my friends suggest or those books of which I hear great reviews online. Like most other ppl my age, most of the books I read are fiction. But over the last year, I have tried to read other genres of books as well. I believe that each person should read only those books which appeal to them on a personal level. I mean that they should be able to relate what they read to their experiences in life. Therefore, being well read is truly subjective. There is hardly a day on which I don’t relate something that happens in my life to something that I read in a book. there was a time when I believed that I read for the love of reading, but then I again I realised of late that I read for the thrill of the story rather than reading just for the sake of reading…..Most of my acquaintances feel that I am well read ( that has more to do with the number of books I have heaped in my room rather than my knowledge of those books 😉 ) but I know that I will FEEL well read only on that day when I can completely visualise the story as I read it if it happens to be fiction or classics, and not only read but implement what I learn for the betterment of my life.


    January 16, 2015
  15. Yeah, I think you’re onto it. I think “well-read” is a subjective concept. I also think it is up to the reader- the quality of reading. Say, one person reads one book. A novel. They take notes on concepts explored in that book, as well as snippets from interesting dialogue between characters. They also find new words that they look up and journal. Compare this to one who just plows through a book without a second thought and moves on to the next one. One can read many books but the determining factor to be well-read is “what did you get out of them?” And what did they get out of you? How do they empower your life and inspire growth? The more conscious awareness shines on these answers, the more it seems appropriate to refer to the “well-read.” Of course, this is just my opinion and I could be totally out to lunch 😉


    January 20, 2015

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  1. What exactly is “well read”? | Book Mouse

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