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How would you read if you were told you were dying? (hypothetical)

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message 1: by Joanna Chaplin (last edited Jun 14, 2016 06:58PM) (new)

Joanna Chaplin | 1175 comments I'm in a bit of a maudlin mood. Not anything people should be excited about, but a wild overreaction to a nugget of real possible risk. It's making me look at the 28-pg long to-read list that does not yet include the books I rescued from my mother in law's bags of books to donate and wonder if it's actually helpful.

Even if I was told I had only a short time to live, I wouldn't stop reading for pleasure; it's like breathing. I could live on water as my only beverage option, but who wants to, given an alternative? But I would want to start prioritizing. (slightly rewritten for clarity)

As for me, I think I would focus on finishing series I'd started, but perhaps abandoning series with the final volume unpublished.

The frugal part of me wants to focus on books already bought, but I think I'd toss some of those off, too, especially one that were included in ebook bundles with books I liked more.

And I think I'd sing a song of lament for a few series that I didn't think I'd make it to the end of. It would depend on how much time was involved but in this moment in this dark daydream, I am specifically thinking of the third book in the Kingkiller Chronicle https://www.goodreads.com/series/4526...
I really really want to find out the answers to several questions there.

And again, depending on how much time, I think I might reread a few old comforts. J.R.R. Tolkien, Lois McMaster Bujold, Terry Pratchett.

Don't want to drag everyone's mood down too much. If it upsets you, then please don't torture yourself. But I'm curious about how others would react if this were to happen to them. And I'm also looking toward my list with a serious eye toward cull, cull, cull.


message 2: by Dara (new)

Dara (cmdrdara) | 2693 comments I think I'd re-read old favorites. Definitely Harry Potter. That would be a serious comfort considering death is prominent theme throughout the series. I'd also try to read what I could in unfinished series that I really loved.


message 3: by Phil (last edited Jun 14, 2016 08:58AM) (new)

Phil | 1136 comments I'd reread old favorites for the most part. Maybe read a few more by Terry Pratchett and Christopher Moore. I'd try to finish with Time Enough for Love.
When my father was dying I struggled a bit with this question since I usually gave him a book for Father's Day and his birthday and I wondered if he'd have time to get through what I gave him or if it would be relevant to him. I eventually realized that one way or the other in the end it wouldn't matter because he wouldn't know.


message 4: by Joe (new)

Joe Jackson (shoelessauthor) I wouldn't, I'd be writing my tail off to finish my series so I didn't Robert Jordan my readers. ;)


message 5: by Sky (new)

Sky | 665 comments If I was told I only had a short time to live I don't think i'd be reading at all. I'd either be spending as much remaining time as I had with friends and family or self-destructing. Quite possibly both.


Olivia "So many books--so little time."" | 43 comments I'd be reading the books I'd previously been holding off on reading because I'd been saving the best-sounding books for later.


message 7: by Trike (last edited Jun 14, 2016 09:54AM) (new)

Trike | 8174 comments I was in this exact situation a few years ago. (Spoiler alert: I lived.) My reaction was more in line with Joe's response, although it wasn't fiction.


message 8: by Tobias (new)

Tobias Langhoff (tobiasvl) | 136 comments I would re-read Moby-Dick as many times as I could in the time I had left.


message 9: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Knighton | 158 comments I think I'd read a couple of old favourites that I thought would help me through - mostly Terry Pratchett and Winnie the Pooh. Then I think I'd try to finish some series I've been enjoying. My choices would definitely be about what I most wanted to read, not what I'd accumulated already but was less enthused for.


message 10: by Tassie Dave, S&L Historian (new)

Tassie Dave | 3493 comments Mod
If I was given a time limit, reading would be way down on my list of things to do, but any spare time I did have would go into re-reading my favourite books.

The reason I don't have a "to read" pile is knowing I could never read all the books I wanted, as the list would always be getting longer.

Joe wrote: "I wouldn't, I'd be writing my tail off to finish my series so I didn't Robert Jordan my readers. ;)"

I wish your name was George :-)


message 11: by Silvana (last edited Jun 14, 2016 09:09PM) (new)

Silvana (silvaubrey) | 1616 comments I'd read fun, light books that I love: Discworld's Night Watch novels, Harry Potter, Enid Blyton's books, Bartimaeus Sequence....
(And write to George RR Martin and Robin Hobb to tell me the end game of their series, as my last dying wish.)

I hope everything works out fine, Joanna. God bless.


message 12: by David (new)

David (dbigwood) I think I'd want the comfort some of my favorites would provide. I'd save The Lord of the Rings for the end. The Grey Havens chapter would be a fitting end. Or if I had a bit extra time, Smith of Wooton Major. Also about endings.

Before that Always Coming Home. Still my personal favorite by LeGuin. Islandia the characters and places would be nice to revisit. The Wrinkle in Time Quintet - Digest Size Boxed Set, To Kill a Mockingbird. The Once and Future King and The Last Unicorn are also about endings. Maybe my favorite Jules Verne work, 800 Leagues on the Amazon. I can't remember the plot but the images of the enormous raft drifting down the river have stayed with me.


message 13: by Sparrow Knight (new)

Sparrow Knight | 23 comments Right off the bat I'd sit down w/the gene, a book I've been looking forward to reading but set aside for the moment to finish some others. And there's several other books on my shelves that I have also 'saved the best for later'.

I think I'd read books focused on beauty & kindness, such as The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet & The Signature of All Things. Ursula LeGuin, because she makes me think & I love the way she draws her characters. I'd also re-visit The Lord of the Rings, truly an epic about faith, courage, & hope.

I'd want to continue to explore new works, but also pr'ly less fiction & more Dharma to prepare for death. One of the greatest gifts we can give others is our own fearlessness, so I would want to read things that helped me do that.


message 14: by Darren (new)

Darren I would record myself reading all my favourite books for my son, for when he was ready to hear them, since I couldn't read them to him in person.


message 15: by Joanna Chaplin (new)

Joanna Chaplin | 1175 comments Darren wrote: "I would record myself reading all my favourite books for my son, for when he was ready to hear them, since I couldn't read them to him in person."

Aw! Very Babylon 5. I approve.


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) | 231 comments We are all dying, right from the moment we are born.

Sorry to be a downer, but there it is.


message 17: by Trike (new)

Trike | 8174 comments Randy wrote: "We are all dying, right from the moment we are born.

Sorry to be a downer, but there it is."


True, but it's amorphous and just... out there, somewhere, somewhen.

When you're told you only have a couple days to live, it sharpens everything to a point. Play a video game that's open-ended without a timer, then try one where you only have two minutes to play and the pace increases the closer you get to the end. That'll give you a taste of what it's like to hear words such as, "You have leukemia" or "Your organs are failing."


message 18: by Rob Secundus (new)

Rob Secundus (quintessential_defenestration) | 1035 comments This is always in the back of my mind, so I always have those "books I need to read before I die" going (the brothers karamazov is the one in working through right now). Fortunately for me, working on a PhD, there's a huge overlap there with "books I need to read to be a decent scholar."

The two big names that would kick into hyperdrive would be Wodehouse and Dante-- id like to read all of the former before I die, and he would probably lighten what would otherwise be dark days. The latter I'd reread with greater frequency than I do now, because I can't think of any better preparation for the Last Things.


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