I only have a few bookshelves. This surprises some people, especially if they’ve been on a Zoom call with me and seen the bookshelf that lines the wall of my office (and my landing page image on LinkedIn). But what might be even more surprising is that, if you were to take down all of my books and make a pile of read and unread, they would be about even.
You see, I have a system that keeps me from getting overwhelmed with books and it’s based on a policy of keeping very few of my books after I’ve read them. The ones on my office shelf are almost entirely books I have absolutely loved/respected and often refer to as examples when I’m working with writers (or for myself, when I need to go back and remind myself of how a certain author did something that I remembering being especially effective).
But the other bookshelves in my house are much more heavily weighted toward not-yet-read. Particularly the bedroom bookshelf. That tends to be where new books land when they come into the house. Because I intend to read them.
As a side note – I’ve go no problem with people collecting books for the aesthetics of a lovely bookshelf with no intention of ever reading them. Books are beautiful. But if this is you – just be warned – if I ever come to your house I will absolutely be drawn to your shelves and (I can’t help it) make certain assumptions about you based on what you have on your shelf. I am not alone.
Anyway, back to my unread books.
Every book I haven’t read represents knowledge, new experiences, and different perspectives waiting to be explored. That part of my collection serves as a reminder of the wealth of information and ideas that can be discovered whenever I choose to delve into a book. All I have to do is pick one up and start reading.
They also represent my aspirations for continuous learning and personal development. The presence of unread books serves as a reminder of the importance of intellectual pursuits and the commitment to expanding my knowledge of the world (fictional and not).
If you google “bookshelves of unread books” you will get all kinds of suggestions on how to organize yourself for reading every book on your shelf. To that I say nay nay. When I’m looking for something to read, I love running my finger along the spines of the shelf and waiting for one to grab my attention.
There are a few rules:
- If I’ve picked up a book and read the first page three or four times and never gotten into it, I put it in the pile that is destined for our little free library down the street in front of the neighbor’s house.
- If I’m half way through a book and set it down, same. I often don’t finish books.
- Any book written by someone I’ve met in person stays on the shelf, especially signed books.
- Every now and then I have a pile of books that need to go on the office bookshelf, which means, sometimes I have to go through and pull out a few to make room. Those often just get downgraded to the bedroom shelf (because I’m not ready to let them go).
- And the best rule: new (and new-to-me) books are always welcome. I’ve even been known to buy paper copies of books I read (and loved) on Kindle, just to have them around. Like old friends.
Books = Fo’eva
Bring books home with you. Stop by the library’s book sale and fill two grocery bags with titles that catch your attention. Browse garage sales. If you can afford to, buy direct from your local book store. Fill your home with books and never worry about whether you will actually read them all.
Instead, revel in the joy of all those stories, just sitting there waiting for you, whenever you’re ready.