Why I Have So Many Books (And Why I’ve Read So Few of Them)

So I’ve been trying to start this next book (while reading Fear and Loathing) called The Cloud of Unknowing. What the book is about doesn’t really matter; the problem is I’m having so much trouble starting it. It just kinda sits in my murse (might as well call a messenger bag what it is) looking up at me sort of forlornly, like “Aren’t…aren’t you gonna read me?” I just look back at it, look at Thompson, and usually wind up going with Thompson because I just burned through another religious text like it was nothing and I want to keep on reading about a campaign trail that technically doesn’t matter anymore. The Cloud could do a lot to enrich my life by helping me understand God from a negative perspective (this is called apophatic theology, or describing God from what he isn’t), but I’m more interested in the ranting and raving of a madman journalist (and believe me, he’s interesting).

This kind of thing goes for most of the 550 books I own. I didn’t buy all of them; some of them came to me as gifts or for free from people looking to get rid of them. Frankly, I do love every last book in my collection.  I can tell you exactly where I got every single one, and there’s probably a story tied to each one. So why didn’t I read them?

1. It got busy at work. This actually does affect my reading quite sharply. See, I can get a lot of reading done at work if we aren’t busy. This is especially true when I work a later shift, like ’till 230 in the morning, when nothing is going on at all. I got through nearly an entire NT Wright book during this shift. Unfortunately, this shift isn’t fun to work when I have to be somewhere the next morning, nor is it frequently available, so I can’t rely on that to get reading done. Day shift, as of late, has been pretty crazy, so reading then is out.

2. I want to sleep when I get home. This wouldn’t be so bad if I would exercise more, but right now, I’m wiped out when I get home.

3. I’m married. This has its benefits, but quiet reading time in a one-bedroom apartment is hard to find. Not entirely lamenting this one.

4. I have electronic devices which serve for lots of entertainment outside of the written word.

5. Being honest, book reading makes me physically tired. I really try to fight this one, because I know what I’m reading is solid and good (most of the time), but no matter where I’m sitting and reading, or what I’m reading, I start to feel tired. Even coffee doesn’t always help.

6. This reason I’m ashamed of: I picked up some of these books because, subconsciously, I thought it would make me look smarter if it were sitting on my shelf.  There, I said it.  To some extent, I’m a philosophical/theological/whatever category you want poser.  I get a lot of the concepts and understand what I read, but the fact is that I have only read about 18% of it (which is why I started a blog. Hoo-rah!).

7. This isn’t THAT much of a reason, but collecting books is actually fun. This is why I call myself a bibliophile: I love books.  Part of that is reading them, but to me, getting a hold of a book with character, or a first edition, or a signed copy, is pretty cool.  Sometimes I love books more than their contents, and one day, starting a collection of first editions and antique books and such would be very, very cool.

So there’s the reasons why I’ve had such a hard time getting into my collection.  I’m glad I’m doing it now (but my wife is allowed to distract me), and I hope I learn a lot from all this.  See you guys Friday.

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One thought on “Why I Have So Many Books (And Why I’ve Read So Few of Them)

  1. I also find it hard to start in on a new book, especially if I’m reading another or have just finished one within the past 24 hours. Also, sometimes when buying a book I go “Oh, I really want to read that” or “this sounds really interesting”, but then by the time I get the time to sit down and read it, my desires might be for a different kind of book. Aside from, say, a class where the book order is defined, I can’t really lay out books and go “I’ll read you, then you, then you,” because after a book or two, I might completely change what I’d want to get at next. This is one of my reasons for having more books than I’ve read (even if my ration isn’t as severe as yours, though I haven’t counted to be certain, either).

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