Today I am returning a pile of books that I took out of the library earlier this month — unread. I write this as I sit on our couch with a bookshelf beside me. I turn 90 degrees to the right and can see in our bedroom another shelf with books, not to mention I turn another 45 degrees on the other side of the L-shaped couch and see yet another bookshelf full of books. Most of the books on the shelves are like the books I am returning — unread.
I am keeping one book from the library, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, because I am reading it as part of the Baker Street Challenge. However, two other Agatha Christie books, Poirot Loses A Client and Death On The Nile, I am returning even though I am in the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge. Why? Because I know I can get to them later and also after a spree of reading several of her books in a row, I need a short break. I will return to them at the beginning of the month, with yet another spree.
Another reason for my returning the books unread is because I have become too indiscriminate in choosing books to read. Last week I just randomly chose books from the shelves. I ended up with quite a few “H” authors as a result. I have discussed this previously on this blog: why am I reading?
As I’ve mentioned in the past, it’s not that I have to be taught some grand life lesson in every book that I pick up. However, on the other side, I don’t want to read books just because they are there– or read purely for “leisure.” Yes, reading can be– and should be– fun but sometimes I have to ask myself what am I hoping to get from this book besides a good feeling.
Life, in my opinion, is too short to be wasted on all pulp fiction. That does not mean I don’t read some “pulp fiction,” because even from the “mundane,” something can be gained. However I do find value, sometimes more value, in reading books that are classics, one of the reasons I’ve joined the Really Old Classics Challenge, or as I do often on Wednesdays read spiritual books. For example, on my Wednesday reading list is a biography of St. Teresa of Avila by Rowan Williams and also a Stephen Mitchell translation of the Tao Te Ching.
All this to say that I want to be more discriminate about what I choose to read. From now, I am going to work toward the goal of considering a book before picking it from the shelf — and aim toward that “shelf” being one of those already in our house before the library. Why pick up books at book sales if you’re not going to read them?
On that note, I’m off to read the biography of St. Teresa of Avila or the Tao Te Ching or who knows maybe something off one of those shelves I discussed earlier.
This post also can be found on my main blog, an unfinished person (in an unfinished universe). If you are interested in getting a more complete picture of this unfinished person, you can subscribe to that blog, if you so choose.