You Arent Gonna Read It

When you buy the book even though you know you will never read it, then you are a bibliophile.

When you need to buy a new house to have space for your book collection, then you are a serious collector.

When you go into debt to buy the book, then you should reconsider.

-- EricUlevik

Compare ReadingDeficit and ReadingDebt, a different kind of debt. ;)


It's common to see some books that you think you would enjoy and to feel the urge to buy them for later. Surely when you have some free time you'll be glad to see them on your bookshelf. BUT: just remember that you're not going to read them all, so you should wait until you actually want to read a specific title before buying it.

This can be difficult for an AmazonJunkie? who lives weeks away from said bookseller by mail.

Too true. I just received my personal Amazon mouse as a Christmas present. Should make me disable the one-click order button. -- ThomasQuas?


One problem with YouArentGonnaReadIt is that it violates EpsteinsLaw.


As for aesthetics, I've always found too many books/CDs/comic books to make a room look unbelievably cluttered. I'd rather do away with the bookshelves and then paint a painting to hang on the empty wall space. Usually when I have enough space, I set off a small section of my room as the mini-library, and arrange the shelves in such a way that I don't have to look at all those titles when I don't need them.

But to each his own. Part of the reason I like owning too many books is that travelling light allows me to do things like live in or near downtown NewYorkCity, which is important to me. Obviously it's not important to everyone.


Something to remember when in the bookshop and just about to succumb to bibliobulimia: it takes five minutes to buy it, and around ten hours to read it (assuming it's a chunky work of fiction) - maybe only five hours for a slimmer work, if you're lucky. Do the math of (unread books at home)*(hours to read each one).

Don't know how many unread books you have at home? That means you've got too many. Another tip: Put all your unread books on the same shelf (okay: shelves, plural) - and make them the most visible shelves in the house.

Then, next time you're out in a bookshop, your resolve will be firm. Won't it? Like Odysseus, you'll strap yourself to the mast of common-sense and sail straight past the Siren song of books, fail to be seduced by their graceful spines, resist pulling them down off the shelves, flicking through their pages and sniffing in the heady aroma of yet-to-be-discovered stories, knowledge and magic. Won't you?


Another variation is course handout materials. How many of us have bookshelves stacked thick with the tomes that got handed out in some course some years ago. Probably out of date, and certainly gathering dust. Someday [!!] we'll get around to reading that course material and Really Understanding It. Someday . . . .
I just skinnied down my use cases course, threw out all the Powerpoint, and now have just 16 pages of text and drills we work through. While none of the students in my classes seem to care about the "thud-ness" of the handouts, other would-be instructors have expressed worry over how thin the handouts are. I think YouArentGonnaReadIt, but they want TheAlmightyThud. Any ideas on this? Who cares about what? -- AlistairCockburn


I'm currently reading ProgrammingPerl 2nd Ed. I suspect it is written in the same style that the language was designed. I'll bet, on average, there is one footnote every page. [And since FootnotesDestroyFlow,] it is severely reducing my ability to digest this complex language.

While the puns are sometimes humorous, they are unnecessary. The footnotes are worse because they presume that they are non-interruptive but half the time the most important information is contained in them. The other half the time it seems LarryWall is jotting notes down for Perl6 (ProjectTopaz?).

Moreover, the Perl documentation has grown from 2000 lines initially to >72000 lines these days. A serious case of YouArentGonnaReadIt. The on-line documentation, by the way, is clearer... most likely due to the lack of footnotes!

But, I think it gives you a flavour of what you can expect from Perl as a language. Non-linear, non-obvious, cluttered and full of good stuff. Whoa! Too much MarshallMcLuhan! -- SunirShah, who believes no textbook should take more than 12 hours to read

I suspect LarryWall would not be bothered by such a description of the PerlLanguage. See http://www.wall.org/~larry/pm.html (which I don't entirely agree with, but I can see where he's coming from). -- PaulHudson

I loved that article! (I didn't hear the talk) I want an excuse to quote sections of it and reference it. It strikes me as possibly a weak talk, but it is a great work of post-modern art, and telling on our times, and also relevant to methodologies at large. --AlistairCockburn

I think that article basically summarizes everything I just said. ;) -- SunirShah

Every book on a programming language should be written like the programming language it is about. Well, maybe not every book, but every canonical reference which is what the Camel Book is to Perl. When you are writing the language, you need reference material that properly suits the mindset you are already in. When you're writing Perl and your brain is in Perl mode, you need a reference book that is also in Perl mode in order to find things with the utmost efficiency. If you're trying to learn Perl from the Camel Book, that's your first mistake. That's like using Bjarne Stroustrup's C++ The Language to try and learn C++ or using Guy L Steele's Common Lisp: The Language to learn Lisp. Pick up Learning Perl by Christiansen if you want to learn Perl for the first time. Don't use the canonical reference of any language as a tutorial to try and learn that language. They're not usually written with that purpose in mind, in fact they're usually written with the express intent of appealing to people who already know that language and are already thinking in the same frame of mind as the author of the book. -- ThePolack?

So which is K&R?


I'm starting to realize that course notes need to be slim because YouArentGonnaReadIt. Traditionally, software course notes have been a case of TheAlmightyThud, but I think that it is the hands-on practice that really matters. Hearing the instructor talk over the notes is boring and sleep making, doing the hands-on exercises keeps people awake and aware. So I'm with AlistairCockburn on this one, Instructors need to cut the material down to just the needed exercises and minimalist reference materials. --PeteMcBreen

In high school I had a math teacher who kept on writing on my evaluations that I didn't take enough notes, even though I got an A on every test. I could never figure out the logic. Was it important that I learned the math, or was it simply important that I was generating the documentation?

I think it is reasonable that they want you to learn how to learn even if the material itself isn't actually hard enough to apply that discipline, yet. -- DanilSuits

Perhaps, but different people learn different ways. My experience with most of my classes -- junior high, high school, undergrad -- was that I never needed to take notes. I just studied the primary materials (textbooks, etc.) rigorously and I did fine. My note-taking ended up being just a waste of paper.

The only time I need written notes, by and large, is if I'm interviewing someone without a tape-recorder -- because then I'm getting info that isn't available any other way.

Interesting that a maths teacher can't get from (1) My student isn't taking enough notes and (2) My student gets A's on every test to (3) Maybe there's something wrong with the tests. Anyway, a teacher who's not challenging you enough doesn't have any grounds to criticize how you ace his course. -- GeorgePaci

See HowToTakeNotes for more

BoyThisStuffMakesMeFeelStupid, maybe because I'm a younger, but I keep hearing about all these practices like BigDesignUpFront, TheAlmightyThud, mass resume mailings, etc. that seem to exist despite overwhelming evidence that they are failures. What ever happened to focusing on functionality, efficiency, success? Why aren't processes introspective and self-correcting? I would think it was obvious that after centuries of media theory, we'd know that people can't learn from bloated, rambling presentation materials. StuffedShirtSyndrome?, methinks. -- SunirShah, who fears his shirts are stuffed too.

Yes, it's because you're a youngen. But here's a hint: a book is always judged by its cover. -- EricUlevik

That's as may be for you oldies, but as a youngen all I can say is TheTimesTheyAreaChanging? ;-) -- LukeGorrie

I believe I've read several times that cognitive psychologists have convincingly demonstrated that people would rather have AnAcceptableWayOfFailing than a risky way of succeeding. What between AnAcceptableWayOfFailing, and CargoCult, we can probably explain much of the irrational behaviour we see on projects. -- AlistairCockburn


Yep, YouArentGonnaReadIt if it gives you TheAlmightyThud. What you want is a MinimalManual?, see JohnCarroll? in TheNurembergFunnel?. ISBN 0262031639 . Excellent stuff, and part of the original (non AlexAnderian?) inspiration behind DesignPatterns, amongst other cool things -- JamesNoble

ZygoBlaxell and MatthewAstley noted that they suffer from ConcurrentReading via TabbedBrowsing - refactored.


See Also: BooksAreGoodCompany, TheyArentGonnaReadIt, SafariTechBooksOnline

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