Unread books

It looks as if my inability (noted below) to read many of the big and challanging books sitting on my shelves is a common problem. Kieran at Crooked Timbers has a post on the all the great books he hasn’t read this year:

This has been a particularly good year for not reading books. I would go so far as to say that there are more books I did not read this year than in any year in the recent past. Although a significant part of my job consists in sitting somewhere and reading something, I have still managed to find the time not to read a very wide range of material from many different fields. In special cases, I have bought the book and then not read it. Mostly, though, I did not get around to even doing that.

What I seem unable to control is my appetite for books in relationship to my ability to read books. When I am over-eager and start buying serious books of imposing length I make it all the more difficult to read the books I own. Recently I tried to counter this by purchasing and reading smaller books. This may have helped my “read to own” ratio but it didn’t put a dent in the backlog. I simply lack the discipline to go to a bookstore and not buy books. On top of that the football season cuts heavily into my reading every year. Throw in blogging and other entertaining diversions and you have a recipe for not reading a lot of books.

So far this year I have read 45 books (a partial list can be found here). Granted quite a few of these books were novellas or otherwise short works, but in my defense many of these are non-fiction. I am determined to do more serious reading in the new year. Hope, and denial, springs eternal.

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).


  1. I don’t know how I ended up here…from Sekimori, I think…but this post, and Kieran’s caught my attention and eased the burden of earned guilt. I, too, am a member of the League of the Unreader…

    My problem is caused by the two martini state of consciousness, payday, and any large bookstore. The accumulation of candidates for the Master List of the Unread has expanded to fill all available space…and then some.

    Perhaps you and Keiran ought to start a “Best Unread Book of the Year” contest…maybe even by category…and perhaps with supporting evidence from those who HAVE read the candidate books. The books can only be nominated, of course, by those who have not read them but who do own them?

    As for me…I can’t even remember the titles…though if I did a serial search through the stacks in my home office, I could find some…

    Perhaps I’ll be back later with a candidate or three…after I get home from Borders tonight…

  2. Bookstores are evil. I went into Borders the other day to buy a CD for my mother and walked out with no CD, but carrying a copy of The Wasp Factory and Randevous with Rama. I’m already dealing with two books that I need to finish, and I’ve got at least three after that, two of which have been sitting on my shelf for more than a year.

    sigh. I’m glad winter break starts on Friday.

  3. Rows and Rows…of Unread Books

    And they’re all still sitting up in my closet, peering at me anxiously whenever I open the door and wondering,…

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