Collecting vs Reading
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Then I figured out, there's two feelings because there's two separate things going on. Absolutely I plan on reading all this stuff, but absolutely there's a joy to be had in the sheer collecting. So I'm going to disassociate the two from now on. I'm going to take pride in my unread collection and not separate it from my read collection anymore. I'm a collector, and I'll go on being one.
Separately I'll live my life as a reader. I've some targetted books that I can reasonably expect to read this year, and will reset that target every January. I won't worry over how far through the TBR that gets me in terms of percentage or even whether I'll ever get to the end, and I'll work harder at enjoying whatever I'm reading instead of trying to race through it to the next one.
No more guilt!
"Even when reading is impossible, the presence of books acquired produces such an ecstasy that the buying of more books than one can read is nothing less than the soul reaching towards infinity... we cherish books even if unread, their mere presence exudes comfort, their ready access, reassurance."
--- A.E. Newton
Cherished attitude about one's library as expressed in fiction:
"My books stand as guarantors of an extended life -- a life that is far more interesting and meaningful than the one I am forced to lead daily."
-- roughly recalled from memory of Saul Bellow's Dangling Man
"One half of it (a library) should consist of books we have read and that have meant something for us, and the other half of books which we intend to read and which we suppose might mean something to us."
I'm adopting a new rule this year where I at least can't buy more books than I read, and can hopefully better that to start reducing the TBR pile. I do seem to be reaching a cresting point where some of the fun's gone out of acquiring, as I realize I'm now looking four or five years out before I actually read whatever I'm about to buy.
The trouble with trying that is I just know I'd start using finishing a book as an excuse to buy a new one!
Last year I tried limiting my books acquired to the number I'd read, but it didn't work. I'd see a book that I'd wanted, and I just couldn't NOT buy it.
I'm using the ROOT group to help me at least make a small dent in my owned/TBR mountain.
>10 Cecrow: I also have less pleasure on the collecting end of the spectrum now. My shelves are full. I don't want stacks of books on the floor, or boxes hidden in the attic/basement/etc. So what to do? Sit back and enjoy the reading. I even left a used bookstore without buying anything the other day! I still buy books from series of favorite authors if I'm missing them, and I still buy Kindle books if the price is right and they fit what my mom or husband will read, but I no longer stop at every yard sale, or hit every bookstore.
It saddens me that my focus for reading seems to be so off in these last few years though. Ah well.
I reflect back on a few books now that I know I read with a "gotta get this done" attitude, and find myself unable to recall as much about them as the ones I took my time with and placed no pressure on myself to finish. I've a bad memory to begin with, so that's not good. I'm trying to provide myself with adequate reading time while not focussing too much on "how many pages did I read today?" It's a tricky balance.
I'm in the same boat as you re the piles of books. Calculating average number I get through in a year and looking at the one I bought yesterday, it's a cold splash of reality to know it's going to collect dust until 2020 or so. Something I need to be more conscious of when I'm thinking about buying. If it isn't a title that's going to trump everything else I'm planning/wanting to read within the next six months, I'm better off not touching it.
But oh, it's so hard to pass up when it's that hard to find title, in a good copy, sitting right there at a bargain price, and I just know that later I'll be thinking what a fool I was, wondering how long before I'll spot it again, and then it'll be twice the price and in half the condition, and and and
I would probably not pass up a "hard to find title, in a good copy, sitting right there at a bargain price." Not if it was one I knew I would like to read.
I have a hard time passing up those sorts of books even if I've read them and have an equally nice copy at home! I only manage it by having a talk with myself that other people might like a chance to own it also. :)
Take the dusty history book example. This is me, if I were you: I should read one of those, else they'll sit there forever neglected. Am I making myself read one only because of that, or because I really want to? Is it more important than what else I could be reading? Will my guilt be greater/lesser if I die having just let them sit, indulging in easier reads instead? If I'm going to just let them sit, should they stay in my collection at all? No, I'm keeping them for a reason, and I've kept them this long, I need to queue them up. I'll read one whether I like it or not! But maybe not next, maybe one after next. Or I'll make it a goal to read one per year. Then it just becomes this scheduled thing, and I'm not neglecting any other reading goal. So it doesn't have to be the next one, it could be the sixth or seventh as long as I finish it by December and let's see, it has this many pages so it'll take me about that long, so I should probably make it the fourth one, actually, and then I could do the next eight months later because it might get stale if I read two of them too close together. So I will definitely read this but not right now but really soon, for sure. Yes. I think.
I confess there's a sort of morbid pleasure in indulging these masochistic lines of thought, however crazy they make me, so long as I'm satisfied in the end that "I have a plan and this TBR mountain is not sheer madness".
Now, when it comes to reading I have to switch between heavy borrowing and reading from the stuff I've bought. That includes freebies from Project Gutenberg. Sometimes I buy something that I'm not in the mood for and I just hope that the mood strikes again. Really, I've learned that if it's a mood thing, I'm better off reading it right away regardless of what else is in process.
"In a good bookroom you feel in some mysterious way that you are absorbing the wisdom contained in all books through your skin, without even opening them." ---- Mark Twain