Posted in Just for Fun

If Words Were Snowflakes and Other Unscientific Thoughts

snow off deck
~my deck, my yard, my endless drifts of snow~

I know this endless wash of white is not unique to my yard. Everywhere we turn, the horizon is no longer visible. Instead, we see a minimalist painting of white on white on muted shades of yet more white.

It’s lovely and eerie and extremely thought provoking. When I look out my patio door, I can’t help but wonder just how many snowflakes my backyard holds.

While I will never know the answer to this pressing question, I found a way to put Mother Nature’s dubious gift into perspective.

And this, my friends, is where the completely unscientific part comes in.

By industry standards, an average 6″ x 9″ novel is roughly 90,000 words long. These little gems of literary delight take up about one inch of vertical space (without their covers).

My yard sits approximately 24 inches above the ground and the footprint of the section in the picture is 16′ x 16′. Twelve inches per foot divided by trim size = 672 books per layer–give or take–times 24 layers times 90,000 words equals a whopping 1,451,520,000.

To be clear, that is one billion, four hundred fifty-one million, five hundred twenty thousand words. Roughly.* 

Just for fun, let’s pretend my first reading endeavor included a James Patterson novel and that each book since the tender age of four was a best-selling novel.

To read all the words found in my little slice of yard, I would have been reading one book every day plus an extra five books per year in my spare time. Despite being an avid reader, I haven’t come close to accomplishing this goal. However, I would like to meet the person who has.

All this to say, if words were snowflakes, prose would fall from the heavens like manna, and I’d remain in this frozen tundra simply to wade through the ever-drifting stories of someone else’s imagination.

Happy reading~ Jody

*This estimate may or may not be accurate, as I’m a word gal, not a math genius.



Meinders Community Library is a combined school and public library that serves the residents of Pipestone County in Southwestern Minnesota. It is part of the Plum Creek Library System.