The Library of Congress has over 34 million books (and over 150 million items) — meanwhile, I read maybe 50-60 books in a single year. In my lifetime I will read only a few thousand books. Even the most voracious readers, reading several books a day, will consume far less than one-tenth of one-percent of the books available at the Library of Congress.
This is over 800 miles of bookshelves.
For perspective: 10-feet of bookshelves will cover what you might read in your entire lifetime (assuming you live a long life) — that’s it, just ten paces through even a small local library.
Even the smartest among us, with superior memory and astonishing talents of speed reading, will cover 50 or 100 feet of bookshelves; that is far less than what is currently in stock at your local library.
But we don’t have to read every page, right? I know the story of Treasure Island but I never had time to read it. We may know of 100-times more books than we have actually read. But even then, we still haven’t left the local library. All the books you have ever heard of (and will ever hear of) is but a tiny fraction of the books available.
Think of all those stories you will never read; the echoes from our past, the tragic love stories, the historic lessons and the vast wisdom that guides humanity forward.
Think of all the stories you will never know exist. Think of the books that you and everyone around you have never heard of, stories loved by people elsewhere, whose lives were changed by reading those books. Think of the books that would change your life but you will never know they exist.
In each of these books people from different cultures and ages are speaking to you, and you can hear only a tiny fraction of the stories told.
Such tragic beauty, I want to hug a librarian.