I began today feeling exceedingly overwhelmed by my own damn books.
This weekend, I inhaled The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty. As with so many books in my Nook library, it’s there because I found it offered for $1.99.
It’s difficult to resist e-books offered for $2.99 or under. Why, that’s less than a large iced coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts! I’ll think to myself as I gleefully click “Purchase” on a book that was never on my radar. Even if I don’t fall in love with it, surely I’ll read it at some point?
Well, maybe. And maybe not. I’m a “mood” reader. I choose the books I read based on what I feel drawn to or what questions I’m thinking about or what I feel I need from a reading experience at a particular moment or … just whatever strikes my fancy, really.
Having enjoyed Moriarty’s two most recent novels, The Husband’s Secret and Big Little Lies, I downloaded The Last Anniversary and Three Wishes when they came up on sale. I figured the day would come, eventually, when I’d be looking for something to read and find them. That day did come for The Last Anniversary, and I enjoyed reading it. Not quite as much as her more recent novels, but the writing is lively and engaging.
For hundreds of other books in my library, though, that day hasn’t come. I don’t honestly know when, or if, it will.
At time, it appears I’m stockpiling books as if expecting to survive an upcoming apocalypse. (Which reminds me, I really need to order a solar charger.)
Acquiring books in a series I love? Yes. Acquiring classics I know I’ll make my way through, even if it’s slowly? Sure. Acquiring books because I can’t wait to tear through them? Okay. But reflexively clicking “Purchase” because the book is cheap and the topic vaguely of possible interest, maybe, someday in the indeterminate future – that needs to stop.
This insight courtesy of the Read My Own Damn Books challenge and the way it has forced me to stare down the hundreds of books in my library.
As a result, I’m no longer buying e-books I will probably never read just because they’re $2.99 or under. Instead of gleefully clicking “Purchase” on these books, I’m gleefully clicking “delete” on the emails that deliver the offers. (Next, I should probably unsubscribe from the emails … baby steps.)
Where I’m still struggling is with feeling overwhelmed by how many e-books I have and not knowing what to tackle next. The thing is, I can give away paper books I know I won’t read. (I believe this is called “getting rid of the evidence.”) It’s difficult but doable. And I can rest easy knowing the book may find its audience. E-books, on the other hand, cannot be donated. They can be deleted or archived but not shared.
This leaves me overwhelmed by guilt. These worlds – so lovingly constructed by their authors – fester, molder, drown in my swollen e-library with no reader to bring them to life. I’m realizing it’s this guilt, in part, that’s making me scurry about in frantic circles, like the Professor Snape-shaped boggart in the Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban film.
I need to let it go. It doesn’t help me figure out what to read next. It doesn’t get the books read. For now, all I can do is chip away at my gargantuan Nook library one book at a time and feel grateful for this happy problem: having so many books in my library to choose from and the time to read them.