How Many Of My Books Have I Actually Read?
I scrolled through the titles which, yes, I had bought with my own hard-earned money. And yes, they had arrived at my home in their cardboard and bubblewrap packaging. And yes, I had opened these parcels and taken each book out, running my hands over their covers and reading their blurbs to remind myself why I had even ordered them in the first place. And yes, I had slid them onto the bookshelf in my living room and promptly forgot about them.
My boyfriend, an avid non-reader of books, judges me whenever a new rectangular-shaped package shows up at our door. I have years of experience pretending to look busy, but he knows how much of my free time I spend lying in bed half-watching my shows and playing Orbital on my phone. If I'm not at work until 11pm, I'm making him sit on the floor so I can stretch my legs out as I play Playstation. I'm not fooling him by claiming I'm going to read all of these books.
I like owning things. I buy games on disc, and will occasionally splash out on a vinyl if I've listened to the album on spotify nonstop for six months and feel it deserves a place in my home. I get emotionally attached to material things. Which is okay, I guess. Life is short, so who really cares if those Pop Vinyls are ultimately worthless if I felt good for the ten days I displayed them on my desk before moving on to some other fad?
So on my morning off, I decided to investigate how many of my books I've actually read and how many are just sitting there collecting dust (because I am not one of those people who dusts regularly, if at all). This isn't an exercise in sparking joy; these unread, useless books are staying here in my home, damnit. But I was curious.
Of these 192 books, I have read 56 of them. I felt really chuffed with this number. 56 is a lot, right? That's like, a book a week for a year. Never mind that I've had some of these books since 2012. One a week!
And then I loaded up PercentageCalculator.com and realised this translates into a 29% "success rate". Okay, when you put it like that it doesn't look so good.
I divided the other 71% of my poor, unloved tomes into two categories: Unread and Half-read. Of my library, I haven't even touched 83 of these titles. The other 53 have been started, but somewhere along the way I got distracted, maybe by another spontaneous Amazon purchase arriving or maybe the next season of The Walking Dead had just premiered.
My pride at owning 56 books that I've seen from beginning to epilogue was beginning to wane. My 56 grown up children, who I taught to walk and helped with homework and waved goodbye to when they left for university, are beginning to pale next to the 53 children I essentially put up for adoption because I didn't like the way they drooled or chewed their food.
Getting a Kindle has made me read more because I can do it in bed, in the dark, with no distractions. But you can't beat a good book. I like turning pages and seeing the spines of stories I've really enjoyed adorning my bedside table/corner table/basically every table in my home. I'd like to promise that I'll channel this shameful moment into reading all the books I own before buying any new ones but let's face it, I probably won't. Some books are there to be read, some books are there to look pretty and remind me to buy more books.
I am Unread Newsom.