Tuesday, March 24, 2015

You'll Never Read Again

How many books do you have on your shelf that you'll never read, or never read again? Me, I have loads.

At the last count I had over 700 books, not including the ones on my Kindle, fiction and non-fiction in equal measure, most of which I will never read, or read again, but keep. Why? With the fiction it's mostly for the memories, with non-fiction in case I ever need to refer to it for research, for a quiz question or just general interest.

I have a Book Club edition of The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco that I originally bought in the early 80s. It was a book whose story I remember to this day, partly because of its style but mostly because I identified with the religious struggle and the hypocrisy of some religions. The most jarring, and memorable, part for me was the conference where two opposing ideas within Christianity fought over whether Christ owned the clothes he wore. It's a scene that I've witnessed play out many times since, and not just in churches but in businesses too.

Then there are the books that I want to read at some point but admit that I may never do so, like the short story collections of Arthur C Clarke and Isaac Asimov. I keep them in the hope that I will be able to make the time one day. Okay, I could stop buying books until I've read them, but where's the fun in that?

The non-fiction books fall under one of three categories: read, skim-read and unread. I've skim-read a few books, mostly the ones with lists or short chapters on individual areas, such as books of a year. I have some that tell me what happenend on a certain day of the year, such as historical events or the weather. Others I've skim-read are science books that I only wanted a small piece of information from. The large number of unread books are those that I'll refer to as the need or interest arises, such as the histories of London.

In the end, it boils down to one thing: I love being surrounded by books. They contain unknown mysteries and stories, some true, some not, a heaving mass of information and thrills that remind me of my humanity and of how forunate I am to be born when and where I was.

They remind me I'm human.

See you on Friday.

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