My To-Read List Is Mocking Me

I own hundreds of books.

On top of that, there are hundreds -- or actually, probably thousands -- of books I want to read. Goodreads alone tells me that I have marked nearly 300 titles as to-read, and I'm not a particularly thorough user of this to-read functionality. Plus what about the 189 books I have read and reviewed on Goodreads that I might want to re-read? And what about the hundreds of books I have read and not reviewed on Goodreads (that happens, too) that I might want to re-read?

I could do extensive math problems to prove that I will never be able to read them all. If I read fifty books a year, and live for another 50 years (I hope), that means I have another 2,500 books in my lifetime. If I stop adding to my to-read list right this very instant, I might stand a shot of finishing them all. Maybe. Possibly. But probably not.

I'm sure you can relate. This is the classic conundrum of bookworms everywhere: there are so very many books, and such precious little time.

I could, theoretically, try to slow the growth of my to-read list to a point where it is more in line with my actual reading speed. I could be choosier about my books. I could commit to not adding a new book to my collection until I have read an existing one in it (actually, I kind of like that idea). But I don't. I continue to see books around me, whether it be on blogs, in print, or on shelves of bookstores, libraries, and others' houses, and I continue to add to the non-existent list.

Take, for example, Pinched: How the Great Recession Has Narrowed Our Futures and What We Can Do About It. I'd really like to read this book. So much so that I checked it out from the library. And renewed it three times. And returned it. And then checked it out again. And renewed it. And returned it. But I never actually read it. The same, or similar, can be said of Understanding Comics. The Art of Fielding has been mocking me on my shelf since its release. So has Marilyn Robinson's Home -- which came out in 2008.

I have grand ideals of reading more, reading wider, reading broader. Reading current events, so that I understand what the hell is happening in this crazy, mixed up, bizarre-o world. Reading books about happiness, and slowing down, and living fully, so that I can make sense of this crazy, mixed up, bizarre-o world. Reading fiction that takes me to a place I've never been. Or a place I'd never even have imagined. Or a new time period. Or all of the above.

I keep expanding my list against all odds because I believe in the power of books to help me understand, cope with, and explore the world. To enrich my life, and to make me see things differently. Perhaps even better. Even the un-read books that grace my shelves are a part of this, reminding me every day of the possibilities that surround me.


  1. I know the feeling. I own 478 books TBR and my GR to-read is crazy at 1000 but I add books to that willy nilly. I ought to go through it and just remove the ones I've only added because I wanted to remember it or someone recommended it to me and I'm no longer really that interested.

    I've joined a few challenges this year and I'm concentrated on choosing books I already own with only one that I don't own. I don't want to say ban - but definite desire to get that physical TBR down to something sensible.

  2. I can so relate. One of my goals for 2012 is to buy fewer books (I'm a realist...I know I'll buy books...I'm just hoping to not buy so many) and focus on reading some of those already in the house.

  3. Oh sad. I'd never thought about the finite number of books I have left to read in my life. Suddenly I feel the urge to get off the computer and go read!


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