A shelf of unread books

When the Used Book Superstore opened up two miles down the road, I began buying books by the dozen. Books I’ve never heard of, in genres I’d never read before. Classics, like Gone With the Wind. Collections of Shakespeare and the full Sherlock Holmes.

I don’t think I’ve read a single one of those books.

When I began working at the Globe, my trainer told me that if you walk by the arts section, there are always bins full of books you can just take. They’re books they’ve already reviewed or have decided not to review, and instead of tossing them they just let you take them. Advanced copies! Unpublished gems! I would take one every day, maybe two on Fridays.

I haven’t read any of those books, either.

It’s not that I don’t like reading–I LOVE reading. It’s just that it takes up a lot of time. I used to devour books, but now I read them at a snail’s pace. It took me six months to finish Life of Pi, only reading snippets while on the subway.

It’s not that the books are boring, either. They’re on subjects I like, like poetry, art, religions, even on writing itself. They’re fun fiction stories with grabbing back covers. I just haven’t gotten to them yet.

And so, I have a shelf of unread books. Well, shelf might be the wrong word…it’s more of a full bookcase. I have four (!) bookcases in my bedroom at home: one for my absolute favorite books, one for books I loved as a child, one for miscellaneous books and Harry Potter, and one for books I’ve yet to have read.

It’s a disease, really. I’m addicted to hoarding books.

I recently made myself admit that I wouldn’t ever read half of the books I have acquired, and donated about 15 to the library. At least there, there’s a fraction of a chance that someone will read them, as opposed to my room where the chance is practically zero. My next book won’t be Art: Unraveled, no matter how cool the cover looked while walking past the arts section.

I don’t know why I do this. I don’t hoard anything else. I go through my closet at least once or twice a year. I never buy anything I know I won’t use, except books.

Maybe it’s because I want to be a writer, and books fascinate me. Maybe it’s because I want to be the kind of person who reads everything, even though I just don’t.

Well. Maybe this summer I’ll be a big reader. If I have time, between work, Nano, blogging, German (am I still pretending to learn German? I haven’t practiced in so long), cooking, and everything else. Well, this is why I never get through books. They’re low on my priority list, even though I love them.

I think I put things I enjoy at the bottom of my priority list too much.

10 thoughts on “A shelf of unread books

  1. I do the same thing! Except I hoard ebooks… 😄


  2. I accumulate books too. This is a family thing – my mother and brother do the same, and we often buy books for each other, knowing that very particular kind of joy that comes from something new to read. I have stacks of books which I go through now and then and reluctantly move on from time to time, but I keep most of them. I particularly like books on writing and local history as well as fiction. I do buy e-books, but if I really enjoy them I usually hunt down a hard copy so I can flick through or re-read at my leisure. I find books immensely comforting and they have a value far greater than the dollars handed over to obtain them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have a book problem too, but I went through a purging phase a few years back and gifted all my books to the library. But now I find myself buying used books at the library and i worry I am going to begin hoarding them again soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve always been a big bookworm, and although I’ve got a Kindle now, I’m still obsessed with buying books.

    I find that I have a really hard time fitting reading into my schedule, and have made it a point to get in bed early and read for at least 20 minutes before I go to sleep. It’s helped me keep up with my ever-growing collection. 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Putting the things we love at the bottom of our priority list seems to be a disease with people these days. I actually made myself write a priority list this week and stuck it at eye level above my laptop. Amazing the good mood I was in yesterday when I followed the list.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. What you describe is, I believe, a common occurrence, even for people who consider themselves to be well-read. I don’t think it has anything to do with not having enough time, it’s that a book forces us to become focused and single-minded, tasks to which we are sadly unaccustomed thanks to the click-this-click demands of the digital age. Where in-depth reading is concerned, we have become a jack-of-all-trades society, and a master of none. I am in the same situation here, shelves of books, many of them unread, and if I’m to be honest, probably doomed to remain unread because I’m too eager to write my own drivel, or unable to resist the lure of the latest YouTube video. It’s a plague, and it takes real determination to overcome.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Every house without at least a hundred books is an impoverished home. Books are vitamins for the mind.
    Any house without a half dozen Opher books is destitute! It desperately requires an injection of culture!

    Liked by 2 people


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