Many of you know that I’ve been trying to cut down on the number of unread books I have in my house. I did a big bookcase cull earlier in the year; I’m giving up book swap sites (pending the use of my remaining credits); I’ve switched over to electronic review copies of books when possible (and I’m cutting down on review copies in general); and I’ve given up on my regular bookstore visits, going mostly for special events. When I go to New York during BEA week, I’m probably going to forgo the Book Expo altogether, choosing instead to go to the Book Blog Unconference on Monday and to meet up with blogging friends in the evenings and on the weekend before.
Overall, my plan has been working pretty well. I’ve only acquired 13 books this year. Three of these were for my church’s book group, and I’ve learned the hard way that I need a hard copy that I can write in to lead group discussions. Three of these were from Bookmooch, where I’m slowly using up my remaining credits. Six were review copies that weren’t available as e-galleys (and 2 of which were audio). That leaves only one, Stoner by John Williams, that I purchased for no particular reason. And it’s probably not fair to say I purchased it for no reason. I’ve been wanting to read it, my library doesn’t have it, and Politics and Prose had it on their remainder shelves. I really didn’t have a choice.
Given the title of this post, you might be able to guess what’s coming. I’ve done well so far this year, but I haven’t been virtuously reading from my shelves. In fact, I’ve read an alarmingly small number of books from my shelves this year.
The library has been my book temptress in recent months. I live near the library, and if I feel like going for a walk, that’s often where I go, and I can’t go without picking up a book or three, even if I have a stack at home. I don’t feel bad about that in any way because I know it improves the library’s circulation numbers, and I also don’t commit to reading everything I take out. The only problem is that it keeps me from reading the unread books in my house, and that’s only a problem if I decide to define it as such.
Giving up most hard-copy galleys also hasn’t slowed the flow of review copies. I enjoy browsing what’s available on Netgalley and Edelweiss, and I’ve found some great books on both those sites that I might have had to wait months and months for at the library. I’m learning to balance my willingness to try lots of things and the ease of doing so with e-galleys with my desire not to focus entirely on new books, and these days I’m trying to request galleys only by authors I already like or authors whose books have been recommended by readers whose taste I trust.
I’ve been pretty happy with my reading choices, and I’ve not added to my shelves much. So far, so good, right? Well, yes, but…
Y’all remember how when I read Marilynne Robinson’s When I Was a Child I Read Books I said I wanted a copy of my own? Politics and Prose must have heard because they offered it as part of their signed first edition club. This club is a lot like Powell’s Indiespensible program, except that P&P uses standard first editions and they don’t throw in a lot of extra stuff I wouldn’t know what to do with anyway. Plus, it’s good bit cheaper, especially if you’re a P&P member. And their selections are amazing. Almost all of them are books I’ve been interested in reading, and the three I have read were stunners. I’ve been considering joining the program ever since it started, and the Marilynne Robinson offer was too much to resist. I took the plunge and got my first book in the mail this week. Now the trick will be reading the books and not letting them sit on my shelves unread for years!