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 A couple of days ago, I finally finished Oliver Burkeman 's Four Thousand Weeks having started it back in August.

More like it finished rather than me completing it.

I "read" it through a combination of Kindle and Audible, listening whilst walking Jac or when running on the treadmill. It didn't always sink in. At one stage I backtracked in the Kindle app to make some notes, forgot, then (some time later) continued to listen in Audible only to realise ten minutes in that I'd heard that part before. Heard but not really remembered. So I continued, hoping it would sink in this time.

It's quite ironic that Burkeman writes about the modern frustration of reading a book, that people experience "a revulsion at the fact that the act of reading takes longer than they’d like." I, however, got more from the times when I did read as opposed to those where I listened. Why? Because I could actually take more time over it. It is easier to re-read a paragraph, passage or even a page than to muck about with your phone rewinding in the Audible app, trying to guess at how far back you should go to repeat the part you wanted to hear again.

I will also watch movies in Netflix while running, breaking them down into episodic chunks. There's something refreshing about watching something 20 to 30 minutes at a time. It gives you pause for thought, allows you to consider what's happening more deeply.

The past couple of runs have found me watching In Time, a 2011 offering which I thought looked interesting when suggested by the app. It's a typically dystopian vision of the future where time is the ultimate currency. At one point, 1 the lead character (played by Justin Timberlake) is told "you do everything too fast." The obvious sexual innuendo retort aside, it's a comment that fit perfectly with Burkeman's whole point: we race through life doing everything too fast, trying to organise our way to perfection to get everything done. But we can't, it's impossible — we're just too afraid to admit it.

We have time for what we have time for. Not a second more, not a second less. It reminds me of a scene in The Sandman graphic novel by Neil Gaiman: Death goes to collect a child who complains that his time was too short. Death replies: "You lived what anybody gets, Bernie. You got a lifetime. No more. No less."

We can't do it all so we should enjoy what we have, savour it. Only then will it be truly time we'll spent.


  1. after coming into some time, doesn't quite sound the same as coming into money  

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 It's been over a year of procrastination and faffing so I thought I'd finally put my "book" project to bed.

I was going to properly self-publish It's Only Words but that would involve getting permission to reprint sections from other people's works and I don't think I want to put myself through that process and incur even further delays.

It's Only Words cover

Instead, I'm just going to make it available here via the blog for anyone who wants to read it. I'll create a separate page for it over the next couple of days but, for now, you can use the below links:

The EPUB version won't open in Apple Books (it just doesn't like it) but seems fine in any other ebook reader.

For anyone unfamiliar, It's Only Words is me putting to rest the thoughts, ideas, angst and anguish that came with my #write365 project back in 2014. I vowed to write something, anything every day for a year of around 300 words. The subtitle is "Lessons learnt from a year of writing" and that is how this is presented.

That project became intensely personal and surfaced a number of issues for me (triggering extended mental health problems) so "Words" is a way of putting that all behind me.

There may still be typos or grammatical errors. It may not make perfect sense. You might enjoy it or hate it, agree with some points but vehemently disagree with others. That's fine — it's a starting point, a conversation starter and, more importantly, therapy.

I'm happy to finally share it with the world. Even if no one reads it at least I can say "I did that. Me!"

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 Several Short Sentences About Writing isn't so much a book that you 'read', more one that you peruse a section of every now and then.

As such, I'm going to start Consolations by David Whyte.

That will technically be four books I'm reading at the same time (along with the Daily Stoic and Daily Thoreau) — maybe five if you include the audiobook of Oliver Burkeman's Four Thousand Weeks.

I've never really been one for having multiple books on the go but the nature of these means that I can dip in and out as required. I'm also looking for those serendipitous moments when things align across multiple texts and create connections that wouldn't normally appear.

Colin Walker Colin Walker colin@colinwalker.blog