I’m not the only one who thinks it’s brilliant. It was a smash hit. And it sparked a massive trend: bucket lists. Sites like “Places to see before you die” popped up. Everyone suddenly started “collecting experiences.”
Books got caught in the trend too. “Must read books before you die” and “how I tricked myself into reading more books” and “use this system to read 200+ books a year” continue to be extremely popular headlines and topics to this day.
Jack Nicholson’s character in the movie says at one point: “If life has taught me anything it’s that 95% of the people are always wrong.”
The same is happening with everyone blindly following the movie: These dudes made the list only AFTER finding out they were dying. The point wasn’t to waste their entire life ticking off random checkboxes. Their bucket list was an effect of a mostly wasted life, not the cause of a good one.
Here’s the huge problem with lists: Humans completely suck at dealing with them.
As soon as we make them we feel forced to a.) add to them all the time and b.) finish them as fast as we can. That’s a recipe for disaster.
It’s even scientifically proven. It’s called the Zeigarnik effect. Every single thing you leave unfinished, your brain will keep nagging you about forever. Even if it’s just subconsciously.
So when I looked at my huge list of dozens of books I knew I would never get to most of them. I constantly felt bad about myself, so I finally got over myself and ditched it.
If you have a huge reading list hidden somewhere in the back of your drawer or computer or mind, I suggest you do the same: Delete it. Your reading list is killing you.
It’s high school all over again! Except you don’t even need a teacher to force books upon you. You’re pseudo-forcing yourself. That makes it worse, actually.
In her global mega bestseller, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondō talks a lot about books:
“For books, timing is everything. The moment you first encounter a particular book is the right time to read it. To avoid missing that moment, I recommend that you keep your collection small.”
That’s because like all possessions, books take up not just physical or digital, but mental space too. Especially the ones you haven’t read yet.
Your reading list is mental clutter you need to rid yourself of. You’ll feel a lot better. Liberated.
Go. Abort this impossible mission. It’s okay. I’ll keep it between you and me.
Written on a keyboard not far away,
PS: In tomorrow’s email, I’ll show you one other huge obstacle that’s kept you from reading more and how to overcome it. Watch your inbox!