The Waiting List

I have never been honest with myself about my stack of books waiting to be read. In fact, I have been so far from honest about it that there isn’t even a stack. Not because I have it all in the form of e-books (I am a paper-lover, myself) but because I have cunningly hidden them all on the bookshelves among the books I have read.

I had a look this afternoon and was horrified to find that I own seventy-four unread books. Seventy-four. Take a minute to let that sink in. If I read one every week, that would last me til April 2017. If I did come clean and make an actual stack out of them, it’d probably be taller than me.

Stack of books in Babelplatz

That isn’t counting reference books or the Stephanie Pearl-McPhee one I bought today. Or most of the Caped Gooseberry’s books, because I don’t plan on reading most of them (e.g. An Introduction to Abstract Algebra, Vol. I). Just to look a little legit, however, I did count the books I have started, but not yet finished.

Shall we look at the breakdown?

Non-fiction was far and away the largest section, with a whopping 44 books awaiting my attention, on subjects ranging from bookbinding to religious drama to the history of Europe to a book simply titled On Killing. (Not, you will be happy to learn, a DIY book.)

Fiction I broke down into Classics, General and Sci-Fi/Fantasy, since that’s how I shelve them. I have seven unread classics (including War and Peace, naturally) and seven unread members of the general fiction class.

Vintage books by naturesdoorways
In case you were wondering, my test for what constitutes a classic is whether they bother to give you a nice binding. Bog standard binding? Not a classic.

There were only five unread sci-fi/fantasy novels, mostly due to buying a series which I am working through slowly.
I also have eight unread children’s books – those are the ones I intend to read myself, rather than keep for the convenience of visiting children – and a paltry three books of unread poetry or plays.

The question that then arose – “then” being after I’d recovered from the shock – was why all these books were unread. The reasons, of course, differed. Some I haven’t had for very long, like the Moomin book; others are just hard to get through. Like War and Peace. Others I feel I really ought to read, but never having had the mental energy and the interest at the same time, it hasn’t happened yet. I suspect my re-reading habits have a lot to do with this.

Mind you, with a lot of these books my intent is to read them once, and then pass them along.

pruning shears and gloves

So far, so slow. I managed to purge one fairly decent-sized book this month, as well as a tea-infuser in the shape of a duck (I love it, but it seemed selfish to keep it when I never used it) and a set of bracelets I found still bagged and tagged under a tree in our garden (a complete mystery).

How is simplicity looking in your neck of the woods?

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