I have a somewhat arbitrary goal of writing a minimum of twenty books before I stop, and given the low bar for the job, that likely means when I die. (Don’t worry, this is a happy newsletter!) I’ve written eight books over the last eight years, and at fifty-six, that average gives me until sixty-eight to accomplish my goal.

Doable, but I’ve always been one to hedge my bets. Doable may not be quite done enough.

As I was taking a life-extending walk with Lena, I started wondering just how much longer daily exercise represented, specifically in numbers of books written. When I looked this up, some of the numbers were confusing, and no one seemed willing to give hard facts as to the actual benefits, presumably because of concern that walking people might die anyway and come looking to sue afterward.

So, because I really want to hit 20, and because of the infinite depths of my affection for all of you, I have parsed the math and am now here with the means to help you live long enough to write an entirely arbitrary number of books before you croak. Be aware that I am not a doctor, this does not constitute medical advice, and if you do everything here and die anyway, that’s because you did it wrong and not because of anything I said.

Walking—There are a few variables here, like gender, speed, and duration. Basically, all the same variables that determine how good you are at sex. But I’ve boiled it down to the following: If you walk every day you can add as much as 16 books to your life and lower your chance of death by 17%. These numbers get cut to 1 book and 2% if you walk in areas with lots of city busses.

A young couple walking outdoors beside stacks and stacks of old books. A school bus stalks them in the distance.
Seriously you guys, watch out for that bus.

Cod Liver Oil—An outlier, this fish oil, rich in Omega 3s, can add 2.2 books to your life span and give you a 27% lower chance of death. You may notice that the books to percentage of death ratio makes no sense. That’s because I don’t really understand all the science talk and needed to push this newsletter out the door more than I wanted to figure out what all that really meant.

Vitamin C—Everyone knows about this one. Daily regulated doses of Vitamin C will add as much as 6 books to your life and lower your chance of death by 42%. Incidentally, some of these numbers were harder to come by than others, so where the research fell down, I decided to make stuff up.

It’s probably just as accurate.

Healthy Weight—There’s good news and bad news here. The bad news is that dieting is hard. The good news lies in your perspective. If you are at a healthy weight, you are adding an average of 3 books to your life simply by not being moderately obese, medically defined as “sorta fat”. However, given the same starting point of a healthy weight, you add a whopping 10 books to your life by not being severely obese, or “really fat”. If you are a healthy weight and neither moderately or severely obese, you add 21 books and a 67% lower chance of death.

A young woman running down the street. It is raining oranges. I don't know why.
Running from an avalanche of oranges adds 6 books of exercise, while not running subtracts 37 years of getting crushed under an avalanche of oranges. Eating them is a wash, as the Vitamin C and the sorta fat from all the sugar cancel each other out.

Proper Sewage Disposal—If you poop in a toilet instead of a bucket, you will automatically add 20 books to the old lifespan, and have a 62% lower chance of death. This one is probably a gimme for anyone with friends.

Other stuff—Good sleeping habits, not being a drunk, not smoking, staying stress free, not being addicted to opioids, these items represent everything else a person might do to extend their bookspan. Some people erroneously believe that things like not drowning or not falling out of an airplane can also increase the number of books you can write in one lifetime, but then what would you write about


All of these items add up to an extra 8 books and a 97% lower chance of death. If you also add in everything else on this list, you will definitely live 73.2 additional years/books, and your chances of death will drop by 312%, making you functionally immortal.

Aren’t you glad you read this far?

An old writer who looks like a sea captain reading a dusty book in a library. Yar.
This man is 615 years old and has written 585 novels about beard care.
The only thing he does on this list is daily exercise running from orange falls

Extra Bonus Life—If 150.48 years old isn’t enough for you (102.48 books if you started writing when I did), there’s one more way to live longer, and that’s to organize your time so you write more books per year. Simply by creating a regular schedule that’s easy to stick to, I will live an additional 94.23 years of productive writing time, bringing my total to 196.71 book-years. (All figures professionally mathified. No need to double-check.) Yet another way is to take credit for other people’s books, but that can result in large amounts of lifespan removed if some dill-hole catches you out, so you might rather skip it.

Obviously if you’re not a writer none of this applies and you probably started feeling sick halfway through the newsletter.

But good luck.

A very handsome man receiving an award which he richly deserves, for being so smart and attractive.
Me, receiving the Math Only Saves Writers so the Rest of You Can Suck It Award, 2024. Personally, I think this contest is kind of aggressively, if accurately, named.

Sign up for the Orven Newsletter

Get your monthly dose of humor and book updates in your inbox.
Unsubscribe any time. We will never share or sell your email. Because, that's just rude.