A few weeks ago, several bloggers were spurred on to blog about Amazon publishing a list of the Top 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime. No one listed their top 100, instead they chose 20 books with reasons why they liked them. I thought I would jump on the bandwagon and do the same thing, so started to look at the numerous books on the bookshelves in my lounge, bedroom and spare room.
It was with horror to realise how many books I have that are unfinished or worse still not even started. I love books, probably more than I love reading. Is that a terrible thing to admit to? I download books on to the Kindle app on my iPad but still prefer a proper book. Are you like me and can’t resist the fresh, crisp and clean feel of a paperback? When in a bookshop my resolve not to buy more than one book fades away and I am easily tempted by 3 for 2 offers. I pick up books that I would not normally read just to get my 3.
When listening to radio programs I make a notes of their recommendations and exciting discussions about books I would never think of reading. The last book I was tempted to buy was “The Hare with the Amber Eyes” by Edmund de Waal, the radio discussion made this autobiography sound so interesting but when I actually started to read the book, disappointingly it just did not catch my imagination the way I thought it would.
I signed up to Goodreads a great website for book ideas and reviews. Here I joined the book challenge to read a set number of books in a year and joined two “book clubs” and with all good intentions ordered books, which are yet to be read – “The Husband’s Secret” by Liane Moriarty and “Wife 22” by Melanie Gideon.
I have recently revisited my Audible account so that I can download books and listen to them on the train, and whilst knitting . “The Husband’s Secret” is one such book, and I don’t think being read to is cheating, do you? I have downloaded several audio books over the years and not finished them. Scarily Audible must keep a track on this because they have awarded me a “Procastinator’s” badge for not finishing books.
If someone recommends a book on Twitter, I will visit Goodreads, check out the reviews and, if tempted, order them from Amazon. I still have “I Capture the Castle” by Dodie Smith from last year which I started and never finished, not for any reason other than I bought other books that were more tempting to read, and finish.
I was beginning to feel a sense of shame at the number of unread reads I have stashed away on my bookshelves. That is until I was listening to Radio 4 on Saturday morning. They announced that a recent survey to mark World Book Day found that half of an average home’s books go unread. There was an interview with Dr Rick Gekoski, a book dealer and writer, where they discussed why so many books go unread. I loved his take on things, he said “… if you have read every book in your library, what you are looking at is a kind of mausoleum… Just because I have bought [a book], it’s not like a lamb chop; I don’t have to eat it in three days”. It made me feel a lot better and now I view my unread books in a different light. They are something to look forward to and no longer will I feel a sense of guilt if I don’t immediately read, or even finish a book because it will be patiently waiting for me to find the right moment. Susan Hill wrote in “Howards End On the Landing” “A book which is left on a shelf is a dead thing, but it is also a chrysalis, an inanimate object packed with potential to burst into new life”.
Do you have shelves of unread books waiting to burst into new life? Do you feel shame at not reading books you have bought? Do you keep them with a view that one day you will eventually read the books, or do you give them away in the confident knowledge that they will remain unread so no point in keeping them?