As I prepare for another move, it’s time once again to sort, pack, and hopefully reduce the library. It’s that last bit that’s hard. I own a lot of books. Two liberal arts degrees and a lifetime of reading adds up. I have antique reference books, highlighted textbooks, first edition Margaret Atwoods, tacky paperbacks, graphic novels, loose comics, and everything in between.
I have a whole shelf of loaners that need to get read and go home; and another of blank journals that I may never fill (having long ago succumbed to typing everything in). While it has been suggested that much of this content could be transferred to the Kindle, and my inner minimalist does like that idea, I struggle with disposing of books, particularly those I may never read.
Is there anything sadder than an unread book? Probably not for its author. Just writing two practice books I could not publish was a little heartbreaking. Publishing and having your book flop must be doubly so. This touches on why we write, or at least why I write: which is to share and connect. You do a very private body of work when writing, then share it with people in the hope they’ll read, enjoy, and respond by wanting more.
Even a textbook contributor wants her book read. Every review, negative or positive, must sting or lift, especially until you’re sure you have an audience. That makes every unread book on my shelf something of a promise: a commitment on my part to connect with that author. Dead or alive, they put something out there for me to read; and at some point I had a reason to read it. Maybe someone gifted it to me. Perhaps a professor was trying to instill some knowledge, or on a whim I thought the cover was well designed. So I’m packing up the unread books and bringing them along where they will rest on their shelf as I whittle down their numbers and they get replenished.