Visualizing Sixty Years of Books

Assume that you will live for 60 more years. This means you have 3,169 weeks left. If you read one book every week, you will have time to read 3,169 more books. Let’s say that each book is, on average, one inch thick. Then, these books take up 264 feet of linear shelf space. How big of a room would you need to store that many books? Let’s assume the room has 8-foot ceilings, so a floor-to-ceiling bookcase would have at most seven shelves. The books would therefore cover 38 feet of the room’s perimeter. If we account for the fact that the bookcases are about a foot deep, then you will actually need a room with a 46-foot perimeter to accommodate them without overlapping at the corners. That is exactly the perimeter of an 11×12 foot room, or a standard American bedroom. Actually, even that would be too small, since you have to account for a door somewhere, and perhaps windows. So if you want to visualize the amount of books you could read in sixty years, picture your bedroom with floor-to-ceiling bookcases covering all four walls and then some.

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