There are a lot of important books Kieran Healy didn’t get around to reading this year; he lists ten. I didn’t read any of those either, and chances are good I never will read most of them.

Back in the days when I was teaching, I often noted to students that, as each month passed, the percentage of books and journal articles that I should have read that I had actually read was decreasing. That trend continues unabated.

While it is a strange thing to say given that I now make a living in the book publishing business, I actually don’t read a great number of non-fiction books anymore (aside from those for which I’m personally responsible). The core of most of these are available in article format, digestable in a much shorter period of time while presenting as much information as I’m likely to actually remember a few months down the line anyway.

(Hat tip: Invisible Adjunct, who wonders how much of a book one can read and still claim not to have read it.)

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. John Lemon says:

    Here’s a twist on IA’s question. I think you can read the dust jacket description and claim that you have read it, particularly when it comes to academic (and specifically social science) works.

    All that postmodern BS is largely lots of big words put together in odd ways to make the author appear intellectually superior. There, you don’t need to read pomo stuff anymore, and you can claim you did.

    That is my holiday public service. Don’t ask for anything more.