book guilt

In my early teens I had to read John Wyndham's The Crysalids and with that school assignment I discovered science fiction. My inner Geek was awakened. Imagine how I had to hide the covers of my books from then on...

I have always been A Reader and grew up using the public library: when my family travelled across Canada one summer my Mom borrowed the maximum number of books (30; ten per child) to bring with us. That 30 didn't last long, and apparently me and my two sisters read our quota and then each others. Long before we got to the west coast too.

However when I started reading science fiction, I had to save up my money and buy the books I wanted to read because the library didn't carry a wide enough or current selection of this genre. Things are better now, rest assured, but as a result I got into the habit of buying my reading material. And if I didn't buy the book fairly soon after it was published it'd be long gone and I'd never find it. (this is long before this Internet thingy of course)

So on my bookshelf there was always one section that I mentally entitled To Read. Books that lined up, ready to be next. This is a habit I have maintained to this day.


Why? Well, because now I have this horrible guilt! There is an entire section of my book collection that lies in wait. Much like TiVo guilt (Cdn version: PVR guilt) but book based. Especially now that we're moving house and I have to actually deal with these patient tomes... visual reminders of just how Too Busy I've Become.

I have volunteered for the past three years at a local used bookstore so I know that these books can go on to live a fulfilling life elsewhere. There are many readers who would love to have these I tell myself. I've seen it happen over and over again. And in the last three years I've done an impressive culling of my book collection, at least the ones I've actually read. I simply ask myself if I'll ever read it again and if the answer is maybe then it goes back on the shelf. Otherwise, it's off to a new home.

But these unread books. Oh, the guilt!

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