There are people who want to talk about books, and there are people who want to tell you how many books they’ve read. It is not quite the same thing. A conversation with the first group is usually a joy, whereas the second are not really interested in a conversation at all. They just want to tell you how large their brain is. Generally speaking it’s the same sort of people who are a little too eager to tell you they’ve never actually seen an episode of Game of Thrones.
This particular type of egotist appears, like all other egotists, to have found a perfect home in social media where my timeline, at least, has become increasingly clogged with lists of all the books people have read in the past month or year, usually artfully arranged on a clean coffee table without a mug ring or takeaway menu in sight. Inevitably, these lists are long and impressive – why else would you post one? - meaning on top of seeing that your friends eat in nicer restaurants and go on better holidays than you, you now know that they’re also better read.
The point, as Miller illustrates, is not to brag but to inspire
The benefits of immersing oneself in the trend quickly becomes obvious. When you see what other people are reading, you instinctively compare – and therefore question – your own reading habits. One list that popped up on my Twitter feed consisted only of books written by female authors. My own list would certainly be skewed the other way. It inspired me to pick up my old university copy of Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse and I devoured its dream-like, lyrical prose in a single Sunday afternoon. I've since read both The Waves and Mrs Dalloway.