Mar 26, 2013

Why did I buy that book?



I’m an admitted bibliophile. I find it difficult to resist book sales and offers, both online and in brick and mortar stores. I have many unread books sitting on my bookshelves (and in the closet in my spare bedroom). It used to be that when I looked at my TBR (To Be Read) pile I felt an overwhelming sense of shame. The shame wasn’t because of the money spent but rather from the understanding that some of those books would never be cracked open or if they were, only a chapter or two would be read before being put back on the shelf or in a box in my garage. Some books just aren't for me! 

I often times have bought books I aspire to read, such as Leo Tolstoy’s famed Anna Karenina. I have tried reading this book and failed on many occasions. Yet, I always wanted to be that person who could proudly say “yes, I own Anna Karenina. I’ve read it multiple times and find it to be the quintessential book for any bibliophile to own.” Grrr…well, I finally got to the point in my life where I admitted - I’m not the kind of person who cares enough about Russian literature to read Anna Karenina or Oblomov. So, there! I’m okay with that and that doesn’t diminish my appreciation for other works of literature.

And then there are the books that appealed to me at a certain phase in my life that I’ve since moved from and therefore they hold little appeal. They look back at me hopefully as I scan my collection, yet know the day my hands reach for that crisp spine, it will only be for the purposes of adding it to the box headed to the bookstore for trade-in. I’ve come to terms with this too. Our lives are ever evolving and it only stands to reason that our reading tastes will do the same. And who knows, I may circle back and enjoy those books again. In the meantime, their presence in my TBR isn’t a mark of shame anymore.

Someone will probably read this and sniff, “oh, she’s such a purveyor of consumerism.” Well, maybe but we all take pleasure in one thing or another, and I happen to find mine in literature. I read the books I want and have become comfortable with the fact that not every book is for everyone, and those might-never-be-read books affirm that truth. 

4 comments:

I couldn't agree more. My time on this Planet is limited & I can't read every book I've always wanted to read. And yes, we do through different stages in life...what was good reading once in my life may not suffice at the stage I'm in.

Anna Karenina - I have TRIED to read that book, but it's so thick and terribly long winded. Get to the point already!!! Hello!!! I know it will make me sound learned and sophisticated to join the group of people who have managed to wade through that tome, but the fortitude to do it eludes me. I will soon attempt The Grapes of Wrath. Perhaps because it is 20th century, I may have better luck.

@ James - our time here is indeed limited, and better to fill your time with things you enjoy instead of living up to expectations of what is appropriate and what isn't. Another reason why I quit looking at Oprah Book Club lists and others like it - too many aspirational titles that just didn't speak to me.

@ Masuka - I think I attempted Grapes of Wrath in Form IV. Failed and never attempted that again. If you do succeed, do share.

The Grapes of Wrath is perhaps one of the most seminal works of my teenage years. Not only its style, but its powerful themes resonate, influence many ideas I have of history and poverty and the importance of fiction in sharing ideas. Try it again, from the beginning

Anna Karenina - and I thought as a die hard romantic (Masuka) you'd love it and it's a fairly easy read as far as the Russian classics go.

I'm far past the idea that there are books I must read, but I'm very glad that I was introduced to the classics at a young age.

I must confess to only having read one book by Dickens.

Miss Bwalya, I agree with you regards Oprah book club - not every book you read is going to change your life.

These days I find myself having to filter books by their covers and their thickness - there's simply not enough time and so much available and so many recommendations and reviews that sometimes it boils down to if a book is pretty or not.

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