A coworker and I talked about books that were intriguing enough for us to buy in the first place but that somehow we never got to read. I’m sure many readers have books that are collecting dust on our shelves unread. But what happened to the books that had obviously lost the appeal? Forgotten, banished, and set aside, they are not even in the TBR pile.
1. The book everyone is reading or recommedning.
I sometimes succumb to the popular opinion and sheep syndrome. Even though I know better about my taste, I still buy books that everyone is reading or talking about. Well—not Fifty Shades of Grey although a girlfriend who has never toughed a book is reading it. I’m talking about those phenomenal bestsellers that Hollywood quickly bought off the copyright to make a movie out of them. Like A Kite Runner. The Life of Pi. These books largely remain unread.
2. The book is dirt cheap.
Ever felt left out if you can’t make it to the $1 book sale at the local charity or library sale? When books cost no more than pennies and nickels, I tended to be much less selective. The result is a stack of books that I felt half-hearted about. The bargain bin can be dangerous because you never realize how quickly that pile builds up.
3. The book is a giant, intimidating-looking tome.
One day, I will read Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, and Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy. But to give me the credit, I have survived The Fountainhead (which I loved), and this year American Tragedy and The Secret History. At this point I don’t even want to think anything by Proust! It’s such a commitment to tomes.
4. The book is a classic, meaning an obligation.
I don’t know why I still feel obliged to reading books that bored the hell out of me in school. Just because something is shelved under classics doesn’t mean I have to read it. I enjoyed The Great Gatsby, A Tale of Two Cities, and The Sound and the Fury but I shouldn’t read everything written by Fitzgerald, Dickens, and Faulkner? One day, I’ll get to Les Misérables. (See #3)
5. The book is written by an author whose other work(s) I like.
Sometimes buying the entire oeuvre is a big mistake. I should have left Umberto Eco alone after reading, cherishing, and loving The Name of the Rose. Most of his other novels I cannot even get through the first chapter. Focault’s Pendulum is flat out boring and pointless, a huge mess. Cloud Atlas is another one, and the film doesn’t help. David Mitchell is the kind of author whom you just have to read one and you read them all. Number 9 Dream is gathering dust.