Have you ever read the “The Incredible Book Eating Boy” by Oliver Jeffers? It is the story of a boy who eats books rather than reading them and becomes so hungry for knowledge that he starts devouring books faster than he can assimilate what he is learning. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve uploaded photos from my camera, only to find that they were all just slightly off, and wished that I could just eat books on photography. I’d eat books on design and blogging and cooking and art and language. I’d eat books on business and money management and sewing and crafting. I’d eat books on parenting and marriage and friendship.
But it doesn’t really work that way. I belong to a tribe of readers. Everyone in my family (except me) is well read. It is the culture to which I belong. But I’m not sure it is the culture in which I fit. If I read all the books on all the things, would I be a better parent or a better cook or a better photographer? I’m not so sure. We can’t just devour the book and know how to do the thing. We have to actually do the thing to improve. So how do we find the balance? How do we pick the books to read that will most improve our lives? How do we make the time to change our habits to put in place the lessons we learned while reading?
I’ll be honest. I am overwhelmed by the number of things that I want to learn. But more than that, I am overwhelmed by the sheer volume of available content to read. Right now, on my bedside, there are seven books, only one of which belongs to my kids. Seven books about seven different things (ok, six different things – two of them are about parenting), all waiting to be read. All waiting to be assimilated. But what happens when we are just topped out? Topped out of information, topped out of content?
I’ve been thinking about this post by Seth Godin for the last several weeks. Seth talks about the acronym “tl;dr”, which means “too long; didn’t read.” Three things really stood out for me. The first was the idea that “there's too much noise, too much … useless stuff cluttering your life.” Yes. Totally agree. Need to figure out how to pare that down, but how? Second, was the idea of reading in what Seth calls “check-list mode”. I do this all the time. I am so overwhelmed by information that I can’t seem to stop and actually read what is right in front of me. The result is that I learn nothing. And finally, Seth points out, now that everyone can publish, and a lot of people are, more noise is being created. I can’t help but wonder, am I just contributing to the noise? I began this blog with the intention of helping people plan meals, check one thing off the never-ending list. But in the age of (ever increasing) information overload, is that really necessary? Do people really need one more thing to read?
For now, I’m going to keep putting out menus and keep reviewing recipes. But maybe I’ll review fewer recipes and leave tips and comments on my Pinterest boards instead. That way, I’ll have more time to read the seven books on my nightstand and you can tackle your own stack. Let me know what you are reading. It’s ok if it is long, as long as it is good.