When deciding my new year’s bookish resolutions I knew one resolution that without shadow of a doubt had to make my list: to read all the books I own but have never begun.
I seem to have accumulated a rather disconcerting pile of books over the years that languish, lonely and unopened with only dust to keep them company on my bookshelf. At last count I have a round fifty of these such books. And those are only the ones I could find. I know for a fact I have more books somewhere, all probably bemoaning their crease-less spines and their top right corners that have never been folded down.
And the thing is that I want to read these books. I really do.
These aren’t books I’ve hesitantly accepted from distant relatives so as not to upset them. These aren’t books that come free with crappy magazines that I know at first glance I’m never going to read. These are books I’ve spent my own money and giddy excitement at finally, finally having them in my hands on. These are books whose pages I couldn’t wait to get home and turn and whose characters I couldn’t wait to meet.
And yet I still haven’t read them. I’m pretty sure I’ve had some of these books for at least six years. Considering the fact I’m only twenty-one that seems like a hell of a lot of time.
And I think I know why.
I get excited and distracted by new things easily. I also tend to buy books in bulks of at least three. This makes for a frenzied cocktail of anticipation, nervousness and glee when the postman knocks on my door to hand me my parcel of multiple books. The same thing happens when I come home from the book shop, the weight of the plastic bag gripped tight in my hand a happy reminder that soon, soon I’ll get to dive into new worlds.
I’ll pick to read one of my brand new books. And it will have a shiny new cover that will be stiff to turn. And it will have fresh white pages that will hold that gorgeous new-book smell. And it’s spine will be free of even the slightest crease. And I’ll read this book and hopefully I’ll love it.
But in the time it takes for me to fully think about and move on from the book I’ve just read, a new book – on a website, in a book shop, in a book review – will catch my eye. And suddenly all I will know is that I have to read this new book next. I’ll be positively brimming with the need to consume this new book right now.
But I’ll tell myself I can’t. After all, I’ve only just bought at least two other perfectly good new books that are waiting to be read.
But by this point I won’t want to read those books any more. Like an petulant child all I’ll want to read is that brand spanking new, most-amazing-book-ever that I’ve just seen. And so I’ll buy it. And while I’m there I’ll buy some more books too, more amazing, I-must-read-now books whose plots and characters hold the promise of being greater, more inspiring and more real than any other book I’ve ever read.
And so the cycle will begin again.
Every few days or so I look at my bookcase and my eyes fall to a book I bought a while ago but haven’t read. And I still want to read it. I don’t have that all-consuming, must-read-now desire but a pleasurable knowledge that it’d most probably be a good read should I pick it up. But I don’t.
But that’s going to change. I’m going to make it change. From this moment onwards I’m banning myself from buying any new books. (Handily, my bank balance is in full support of this decision.)
I’m currently reading Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho. And after that I’m going to read either The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick or Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen. And after that I might start American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis or maybe Catch 22 by Joeseph Heller or maybe even Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. The common factor that unites all these books? I already own them.
Do you have any books you haven’t read yet? Why?