Monday, September 14, 2009

The reading backlog is a good thing

I've come to realize that I will never be able to clear my to-be-read pile. My frequency of buying books far exceeds the rate at which I go through them. I read books much too slowly.

Perhaps I may not be able to read David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest or James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake, but at least I have them on my shelf. I can always pretend that I've read them. I'm guessing that anything I say about these doorstops would be considered as true, since I think that not many people have actually read them.

I can always say that "Infinite Jest is a celebration of pop culture in all its wondrous facets" or that "Finnegan's Wake represents the zenith of modernist fiction."

I love my TBR pile. I consider it as my baby -- I can watch it grow through the years. It'll have periods of stunted growth (when I don't have money) and intermittent growth spurts (during book sales).


Jenny said...

That's a good way of looking at it. I try to think of it as more of a "collection" too because there is no way I'm going to read it all. Especially with how I've been reading all new, review, or library books lately.

Peter S. said...

Hello, Jenny! Hmmm... I'll think of it as a collection as well. Everyone of us here has his or her own growing TBR pile.

sumthinblue said...

Hear, hear. At the rate I'm acquiring them, I'm resigned to the fact as well.

At least we'll have a lot of books to retire on! :D

gege said...

i'd like to think i will not die until i've read them all, which means i will have a looooong looooong life.

Melissa said...

I hear ya! I have the exact same problem. I do like how you can consider you TBR pile as your baby -- watching it grow. LOL. I have to agree it is soooo true. But I hate to admit it... I am glad to meet another with the same problem. There are so many fast readers out there I just kind of feel left in the dust at times.

So, in short, you are not alone.

Peter S. said...

@Sumthinblue: Oh my! I hope we don't wait until we retire to read them all.

@Gege: LOL! To long life!

@Melissa: I'm glad I'm not alone as well!

Charlie said...

I love my TBR pile because (1) I own it and (2) like I say on my blog, a book for every mood.

If I feel like a whodunnit, got it. A classic, got it. A tearjerker about dogs, got it.

BTW, You speak mindless intelligentsia very well:

I can always say that "Infinite Jest is a celebration of pop culture in all its wondrous facets" or that "Finnegan's Wake represents the zenith of modernist fiction."


Peter S. said...

Hi, Charlie! Thanks!

Patrick said...

There's two reasons why I don't mind having a huge TBR pile. First, when I retire at least I'll have all the books I'll want to read and have all the time (hopefully) to read them all as well. And secondly, I hope to pass my collection down to my children and wish also that they'll inherit their dad's bookish obsession. I think having those ideas in mind would help us not to feel so bad about our growing TBR pile. ;)

Peter said...

Hello, Patrick! Thank you for stating those two reasons. I just hope that, with the kind of climate that we have, our books would last for several years.

Stepford Mum said...

I think the wisest investment we booklovers can make would be fire insurance for our homes (and book collections in particular).

Don't worry about finding time to read all the books - the day will come when the pile may slowly shrink. I felt the same way you did until I had my son, and then realized I had no more time to read, let alone buy more books. For two years I only purchased a few books, mostly online, and by reading as my son slept, got through my TBR pile and started re-reading old favourites. This year, I've started buying again, and the pile has re-grown :)

Peter said...

Hello, Lya! That's a very practical piece of advice you've given.

Also, one of the reasons that keep coming to mind whenever the topic of book hoarding and impulsive book buying comes up is that I'm helping the economy. Hehehe.

Anonymous said...

I love to gaze at all those unread books on my shelf with a delicious feeling that I have so many stories to choose from to get lost in.
Lately, I've been pretty worried about my compulsive behavior toward book-buying, which I call my only real vice. So,I'm happy to have read a lot of positive thoughts on a ballooning TBR pile.
I know I'll never finish reading what's on my shelf in two or more years, and yet I keep adding. My comfort, though, is that I'm not alone.
I think we need a Book-aholics Anonymous. But I'm sure if we all get together to mourn our compulsiveness, we'll just end up talking books and buying more!

fantaghiro23 said...

I refuse to wait until I retire to read all my books! I'm opting for early retirement.:)

But on a tiring day (like today), seeing all my books cheers me up.

Peter S. said...

Hi, Honey! Books indeed make everything cheery.

mooders said...

I tend to think that the (huge) pile of TBR books represent opportunity. They are stores of knowledge and pleasure as yet undiscovered, each one adding to the sense of wonder and anticipation I have when I choose which among them shall be my next read.

I remember reading somewhere, I forget where, that the value of one's library is not in what has been read, but in what truths and discoveries lie waiting within the unread pages.

That makes me feel better about adding all too frequently to the TBR pile :)