I’ve been reading since, well, who knows? But somehow, buying and owning books became more of a pattern than actually reading them. Several years ago, I learned the secret to getting from cover to cover. Take a book out of the library! It comes with no price tag and a built-in deadline, an irresistible combination.
The idea for this project came to me after I recently moved into a new apartment. Why, I wondered, was I lugging around all these unread books? Knowing that I will probably move again in the next year, I thought Read ’em or weep. And so this project, as amorphous and potentially eternal as could be, was born.
The first thing I did, I am reluctant to admit, was buy a brand new book. A full-priced, albeit paperback, novel that I could have checked out of the library. It was the little rebellious girl in me throwing a spanner into the works, as my English boyfriend would phrase it.
So I’m almost finished with Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. It’s the first novel I’ve read in years, the first book that had nothing to do with food or spirituality or writing or travel or finance or health and wellness that I’ve bought in a decade, and it’s quite good. Once finished, I can proudly put it on the shelf with the other already read books (yes, I’ve read a few) and move on to the next.
It’s not just books unread by the score; I’ve amassed a hefty assortment of magazines — Newsweek, Wired (couldn’t resist the $3 promotional subscription price), San Francisco, 7 x 7, The New Yorker (left by a generous neighbor), and Rolling Stone (which I didn’t even subscribe to, yet manages to find its way into my mailbox regularly) — and a wide variety of email newsletters. I’m a sucker for a free ebook (most of which remain, you guessed it, unread).
I thought I’d create a database, a lovely table of titles and such, but happened upon a lifesaver, a website called LibraryThing, and am now in the process of entering all the ISBNs (International Standard Book Number) and categories. I’ll not only be able to organize my books more effectively, but I can see how many others using the website share my interests.
My intention is to read these books and provide as much of a synopsis and review as I can muster, not being a book critic or even a completely attentive reader. I’ll do my best!