Does size matter?

I started collecting books in high school. There were several two-for-a-quarter used bookstores downtown and I’d take the bus down there every weekend and spend a dollar or two. In college, the library would cull the stacks and put withdrawn books out for sale cheap. I bought them using my blackboard-cleaning money. After that, years and years of books sales, garage sales, and flea markets, all to accumulate books that would thenceforward collect dust on shelves around the house. I would¬† read one from time to time, or at least take it down and handle it, but the books were there mainly to keep me company or perhaps because I had some notion of someday reading them all, in the same way that someday I would travel the globe. For actual reading, I checked out fun books from the library. Finally, in my sixties, I quit buying books (more or less). I quit rearranging the books on the shelves. I quit waiting for visitors to ask me about them. I quit waiting for something magic to happen.

When I started listening to audio books – books on tape – in the early 80s, I kept a list. I was up to 500 when I lost the text file that contained the list. I don’t remember if a disk crashed or I just lost interest or what. There must have been backups for the file somewhere, but I never found them (or looked for them, really). Redoing the list would have been impossible. Too much work and too much memory required. And, I had already been wondering what the point was. What difference did it make how many books I had listened to? Nobody ever asked, just like with the books. (I’m not counting the joker who ran his eyes over the shelves and said, “Read ’em all?”)

Which brings me to movies, and how many I’ve seen. I visited the blog today of a fellow who has seen more than 10,000 movies. That’s a movie a day for 30 years; or a movie every two days for 60 years. The fellow, I think, has ranked the movies in order of preference. There is something in the totality of this feat that appeals to me, but I’ve noticed, for example, that at some point my collection of books began to seem less like a comment upon my elevated taste and more like a burden to whomever gets stuck with it when I drop dead. My list of 500 books on tape, and the act of listening to them,¬† not only did not change my life, but have mostly fled from my memory. Except Moby Dick. It was about a whale.

Also, what about that guy who watched the 15,000 Movies You Need To See Before You Die, and then killed himself?

However – however! – I did bestir myself one time to watch all but nine of the entries on the IMDB Top 250 list. It’s a wacky list, but maybe that’s a good thing. Now, several years later, I still have a warm feeling about having seen, finally, the classic films on that list, even if I hated them with a passion whilst I was forcing myself to watch them, five minutes at a time.

So I told myself this morning: this week, you can spend one night each with seven movies or you can spend seven nights with one movie and its Criterion extras. Choose well, Grasshopper!

The other thing is, what about TV shows? Why all the love for movies? If I start watching three sitcoms a day, I’ll get to 10,000 by 2020! Today’s selection, to get this started: Leave It To Beaver #213, My Three Sons #43, and Dr. Phil #404 (I’m counting Oprah and Dr. Phil and Glenn Beck as sitcoms).

Better than that, if I listen to 28 podcasts a day, I’ll hit 10,000 in a year, with a week to spare!