Collecting vs Reading

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Collecting vs Reading

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1Cecrow
elokuu 15, 2011, 11:40am

Lately I seem to acquire books at two or three times the rate I read them. So the number of to-be-read has gradually been creeping up there, and this week it surpassed a hundred for the first time. I experienced a weird sort of dual feeling: fond of my new acquisitions, but overwhelmed at how I'm going to read them all.

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!

2reconditereader
elokuu 15, 2011, 2:11pm

I like that idea.

32wonderY
maaliskuu 27, 2012, 8:37am

May I quote?

"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

4sneuper
marraskuu 11, 2012, 2:44pm

>3 2wonderY: So true, although you probable meant to point at A. Edward Newton

5stellarexplorer
Muokkaaja: marraskuu 14, 2012, 11:05am

Or another statement with a similar sentiment, which I have on my LT profile page:

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

62wonderY
Muokkaaja: marraskuu 14, 2012, 11:22am

I haven't read him yet, but Italo Calvino has a helpful formula:

"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."

7Cecrow
marraskuu 16, 2012, 7:53am

I've read If On a Winter's Night a Traveller, which is a sort of book about books. I don't remember that quote, but it would have fit into that novel.

8varielle
toukokuu 6, 2013, 1:28pm

>1 Cecrow: I wish my TBR was as manageable as yours. I'm sure mine has gone over 1,000.

9Cecrow
tammikuu 30, 2014, 8:06am

>8 varielle:, that might be me someday. Over 150 now, just keeps growing ...

10Cecrow
maaliskuu 26, 2014, 7:44am

Y'know, thinking on this further (as I do every once in a while), I've identified the conflict. The pleasure of acquiring adds stress to the pleasure of reading, as it continues to emphasize just how incredibly much there is I'd like to read but I only have a limited lifespan to do so.

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.

11alaudacorax
maaliskuu 26, 2014, 8:16am

>10 Cecrow:I'm adopting a new rule this year where I at least can't buy more books than I read ...

The trouble with trying that is I just know I'd start using finishing a book as an excuse to buy a new one!

12Bibliophilus
maaliskuu 26, 2014, 8:25am

Books waiting to be read motivate me to make progress in the one I am reading!

13fuzzi
maaliskuu 26, 2014, 8:30am

Ruth, love that quote!

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.

14karenmarie
Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 1, 2016, 11:25am

This thread is making me feel better. I wish I'd found it 2 years ago! I read, I collect, I enjoy, I catalog.

15MrsLee
marraskuu 10, 2017, 9:10am

>1 Cecrow: I like your thought that you need to read the books you have with pleasure, not pressure. I will catch myself at times trying to rush through reading, or being frustrated at not having time to read and have to remember that reading is for pleasure at this time of my life. All the other benefits are there as well, but if I remove the pleasure by placing unrealistic demands on myself, then what's the point?

>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.

16Cecrow
marraskuu 10, 2017, 9:24am

>15 MrsLee:,

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

17MrsLee
marraskuu 10, 2017, 9:41am

Haha, I have quite the random choosing method of picking books off of my TBR shelves, so I don't have to worry about when I'm going to read them. It could be they get chosen tomorrow! I make sure to randomly choose books from even the dusty old history ones I've inherited so that all get a chance each year to be read.

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. :)

18Cecrow
marraskuu 10, 2017, 10:00am

>17 MrsLee:, you are in a far more healthy place than me, if you can do that. I have to prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. Live as if you'll die tomorrow, Gandhi said. Okay, so that means the next book I read has to absolutely, positively be the most important one to ensure I do read before I can't read another! No pressure. I don't agonize over this at all, nope, not me.

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".

19MarthaJeanne
marraskuu 10, 2017, 10:04am

I use my Currently reading collection (and shelf) to keep myself at least sort of organized about getting through the TBR piles. With rules about when I can add books and which piles they have to come from.

20MrsLee
marraskuu 10, 2017, 10:10am

>18 Cecrow: LOL, I am, above all else, a lazy person. That right there is just too much thinking for me!

21stellarexplorer
marraskuu 10, 2017, 10:21am

>18 Cecrow: >17 MrsLee: I’m closer to Cecrow, but with less angst. And limited success as I have hundreds of books on my tbr

22Cecrow
marraskuu 10, 2017, 10:28am

>21 stellarexplorer:, then one must conclude, more angst = more success! I'd share, but it seems to require self-manufacture.

23stellarexplorer
marraskuu 10, 2017, 12:20pm

Angst is reading pain leaving the body. (?)

24Bookmarque
marraskuu 10, 2017, 5:36pm

I collect, but with a different purpose these days. The books I buy I have to really have a connection to - as in a series I really like, or they have to be beautiful and interesting. Otherwise I get them from the library and that works for me. After the giant book purge of 2015, I have no regrets letting go of what I did and have no problem passing things on when they no longer fit my "permanent collection", which is just what I want and nothing I don't.

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.

25ulmannc
marraskuu 22, 2017, 3:05pm

My wife received this quote as part of a gift for volunteering at one of the two libraries she helps. I love it as it helps me rationalize "reading vs. collecting." I think of it every time I go into the library. I'm not sure where it came from but I do know who wrote it:

"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

26Cecrow
marraskuu 23, 2017, 5:02am

>25 ulmannc:, it’s true! That heady mix of fond memories and anticipation can make you dizzy.