I Buy Books Without Reading Them

From BookRiot:

I couldn’t help myself. I had to get the new George Saunders book. There’s no way I would let Lincoln in the Bardo slip past me. Simultaneously, it was important to note a recent collection of short stories by Clare Beams (We Show What We Have Learned and Other Stories) that Joyce Carol Oates really approved of. “Literary, historic and fantastic collide”? Yes. Or how about Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. A Murakami memoir? I’m there. The book arrived in the mail and I had forgotten that I had ordered it. This is Out-of-Season Adult Christmas.

I know that right now we are drenched in a downtime of book buying. As summer sales slowly advance toward us and the holiday purchases recede farther away, we will follow the patterns that publishers expect. But, this is also the season during which I need to catch up. As I purchase new books, there is this faint voice calling to me from the back of my mind: “You may never read these. You didn’t get to the last ones your ordered. You will never read these.”

. . . .

As I purchase new books, there is this faint voice calling to me from the back of my mind: “You may never read these. You didn’t get to the last ones your ordered. You will never read these.”

I’m worried that the voice is right. I don’t want to be what the Telegraph noted as someone who buys a book to show their personality rather than to actually read. That’s the worst. I don’t want to fulfill that Japanese word, Tsundoku— the act of purchasing books and then letting them collect without reading them. I REALLY don’t want to be the person who says, “I’m collecting books to read when I retire.”

Link to the rest at BookRiot and thanks to Dave for the tip.

11 thoughts on “I Buy Books Without Reading Them”

  1. buy e-books and realize that you can just bookmark them and purchase them when you have time to read.

    books don’t disappear from the e-book store.

    • Unless the company closes (or no longer cares as I think we heard of B&N and their little reader across the ocean.)

      • you can still get the book from another source eventually (once the lawsuits settle)

        the only time you will no longer be able to buy a book is when the rights revert and the rightowners decide they don’t want money and refuse to sell it any longer.

    • Unless you bought books from all romance e-books, in which case, you’re out of luck.
      Yet another excellent reason for piracy.

      • If you bought them then you shouldn’t have lost anything so long as you downloaded the books when you bought them. The books that weren’t DRM free were ADEPT DRM books that are authenticated and managed on your PC via Adobe. That the original store isn’t around doesn’t mean the license disappeared.

        As long as Adobe is around and willing to run the servers the fate of the individual generic bookstores isn’t critical. Even Nook, Kobo, or Google folding their hand won’t be an issue as they all are Adobe client states.

  2. Have a system: read the first n pages, or the first chapter, or something like that of each book as it comes in – stick a note in it to indicate what priority you might assign to it for reading within its category.

    Just a quick and dirty to see if it catches your attention.

    After that, you have a way of deciding what to read next, depending on mood or whether you feel like fiction/non-fiction/memoir…

    I should do this.

  3. I was going to say ‘I never buy a book I don’t read’, and then I remembered a couple that I started and didn’t much like, and one that started well, but quickly went downhill. Oh and that one that….

    I would never have bought a book I didn’t read…when they only came in dead trees. Those dead trees cost way too much to waste, so I’d plough through no matter what. But now? I hate to say it but I give up on books much too easily now, because they cost so little. 🙁

    Oops, hit save too soon. What I meant to add was that I’m still far happier now than when a book cost close to $30 AUD.

    • There is no real protection against books that go off the rails in the middle or end poorly but free samples can be of some use.

      • A writer friend characterized that sort of book as the result of “whoops, the due date crept up while I was procrastinating, better wrap this thing up and start on the next one.”

        Supposedly all that fine tradpub editorial curation was supposed to ensure that sort of thing didn’t actually make it to the printer, but I seem to come across far more than my fair share of those books.

  4. I borrow books without reading them. And then, when my KU borrow allowance is full, I look through and jettison the ones I tried and aren’t going to finish, and sometimes the ones that I’m not getting around to.

    But I buy the books I want to read again.

    We may have wildly differing budgets; I don’t have the spare cash to buy everything interesting on spec.

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