Where am I?

This is the afterlife. You fell asleep at the wheel listening to Atlas Shrugged on Audible.

Oh, right. I guess that makes you St. Peter?

Actually, Pete is sitting this one out; he lets me take your lot.

My lot? And that makes you?

The Venerable Bede: patron saint of English writers.

Ah, quite. Bede, Bede… Did you write “Caedmon’s Hymn”?

Actually, that was Caedmon. You aren’t off to a very promising start.

What are all these stacks of books?

Oh, these are all the books from your Goodreads account.

All the books I’ve read… wow, they really add up, don’t they?

Actually, these are ALL the books in your Goodreads account.

Wait… what… ALL of them?

Yes, we compare your “Want to Read” with your “Read” books, and they determine which direction you go.

Umm, what about my “Currently Reading” list?

That counts toward Purgatorio.

Purgatory? I don’t believe in Purgatory!

And I don’t believe you’re “currently reading” 117 books.

So, is there just a large pair of scales somewhere?

It’s not that simple. Each book has a specific value rating.

Oh, okay. That makes me feel better. There are some Norton Anthologies on the “Read” list.

Assigned reading only counts half.

Oh, God. There go Shakespeare and Joyce. Anything else I should know?

Women and writers of color are a triple-book score, but that doesn’t help most English majors. Oh, and audiobooks count double. To paraphrase St. Augustine, “He who listens to Edoardo Ballerini reads twice.”

I knew it! But, listen, I didn’t actually intend to read all those books on my “Want to Read” list. I mean, I added pretty much every book ever reviewed in the New Yorker, just in case.

Sorry, I don’t make the rules. Actually… I do. That’s one of the perks of being a patron saint.

So, these values, are they based on the number of five-star Goodreads ratings?

My “Historical Works” have six total ratings, so you tell me.

Okay, how about the number of free giveaways I entered?

Don’t make me laugh. No one ever wins those things.

What about my Goodreads reviews?

All four of them?

Damn, I could’ve sworn there were more. Okay, Bede, just give it to me straight — what am I looking at here?

Hmm… I’m afraid you’re not going to like it.

I didn’t make the cut, did I?

No, you made the cut, but — let me open the door here — so did…

Oh God no! All my old professors! No, please, I swear I lied about half those books! I never read Don Quixote or Far From the Madding Crowd! Please… AHHHHHH!