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February 22, 2003

A Confession

Friedrich --

I own hundreds of books I will almost certainly never get around to reading. Before I die, I will almost certainly buy and own hundreds more books that I will never get around to reading.

I'm not sure why, but I needed to get that off my chest.



posted by Michael at February 22, 2003


Send them to me!!!

Posted by: Scott Chaffin on February 22, 2003 8:54 PM

Love to. Trouble is, I don't know which ones of my books are the ones I will get around to reading, and which are the ones I won't.

Anybody got a crystal ball?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on February 22, 2003 10:51 PM

You have my full and deepest sympathies. I don't even want to guess at how many of my books I have left to read. All I know is that I bought A Brief History of Time in 1990 and didn't read it until 1998.

Posted by: James Russell on February 23, 2003 2:16 AM

I feel perpetually behind in my knowledge of the world, but for some reason that doesn't come from failing to read books that I buy. That, somehow, I can usually manage. My question is, why do I keep my books around? Not out of any fantasy that my children will pick them up and read them. I keep thinking I should donate them to a library, but would any library be interested? Otherwise, am I just building a literary mausoleum--and, moreover, one that will be of zero interest the day I kick the bucket?

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on February 23, 2003 2:53 AM

I make the occasional sweep through the apartment, gathering up books I suspect I won't get around to reading in this lifetime. Then I pack 'em up and UPS 'em to the public library in the sweet small town where I grew up. For all I know, they put them on a book cart and sell them for 25 cents each. But it makes me feel all good and sentimental.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on February 23, 2003 11:39 AM

If you want depressing, figure it this way. On average, how long does it take you to read a book? A lot of people with busy lives manage about a book a week (your mileage may differ). How much longer do you expect to live, barring unexpected calamities? How many weeks is that? Now you have some idea how many books you might conceivably read in the time remaining to you. How many unread books do you currently own, to say nothing of the books yet unbought or even unwritten that might eventually pass through your hands? Like pin-back button slogan says, "So many books, so little time."

Posted by: Dwight Decker on February 23, 2003 1:08 PM

Another good point. If a bleak one.

Hey, how about the ratio of "books bought" to "books actually finished, or at least spent significant time with"? I suspect mine is pretty high, though don't anyone tell my wife about this. I spent years hanging around publishing people and never heard of a study being done on the topic. But maybe one has been. Has anybody heard of such a study?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on February 23, 2003 5:11 PM

I think a brief listing of the current authors and titles you have on the Blowhard Bookshelf would be in order, and helpful!

Posted by: Michael Serafin on February 24, 2003 1:54 PM

I can relate, totally!

Most of my books are references or dense academic tomes. In these cases, snippets of information in each book may be dependent upon snippets of knowledge in other books. Hence In this scenario my collection of books serves as a hardcopy network of knowledge. I may not need to fully read each book in order to learn something useful, but I need to have the large collection of books around to do what I need to do.

On the other hand, the "fluff" books (fiction, philosophy) are the front-to-back readers I may never live long enough to read. When I look at my collection of unread fluff, it is there I see the future timeline of my life. "I will not live long enough to read all of these." The act of purchasing books implies a certain committment to reading them. Seeing a physical representation of a lifetime of overcommittment is very instructive and humbling.

Posted by: Nicole Tedesco on February 25, 2003 9:03 AM

I used to refer to my 'to-read' pile, then to my 'to-read' bookcase, then to book cases, now it's an entire room!

I've packed and moved Freeman's biography of Robert E. Lee three times. One year (hopefully before my death), when I'm in just the right mood and have the time, those volumes will be read. Until then, just knowing they are there waiting for me is a pleasure. Odd, isn't it.

Posted by: Steve Lerner on February 25, 2003 9:44 AM

"A lifetime of overcommitment"... Packing and moving a book three different times ... It's so true. Bookaholics anonymous, all of us. And probably distressing to the people who write books, who'd like to think that each book sold means a book that actually gets read...

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on February 25, 2003 3:35 PM

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