Buying books and not reading them: I almost can’t imagine avoiding that on-again/ off-again practice. After all, who doesn’t buy to stock up for a rain day or a lighter work load? Who doesn’t splurge on occasion? Anyway, I read a fun little article, “There’s a Word for Buy Books and Not Reading Them,” so I’ll link to it and comment.
Part of an occasional series on unusual words we wish we had in English.
Nick Carraway slinks away from Jay Gatsby’s party. In the library he comes across a drunken, bespectacled fat cat who starts going off about the books lining the walls. “They’re real,” he slurs, pointing to them. “What thoroughness! What realism! Knew when to stop too — didn’t cut the pages. But what do you want? What do you expect?” Uncut pages! If you know how books used to be manufactured, this means one thing and one thing only: Gatsby wasn’t much of a reader. After all, until they’re cut, book pages can’t be turned.
Collecting books and not reading them is, shall we say, textbook behavior. At least for some of you, and you know who you are. Suffering from the condition of racking up book purchases of $100, $200 or $1,000 without ever bending a spine? There’s a Japanese word for you.
What other words can describe and explain the practice? I for one like investment! Then there’s also hoping, daydreaming, intending—often even good intentions! Is it really categorically a bad practice?
Sure, there can be negative connotations and descriptors, too. There can be shallow trendiness involved, as displayed by Gatsby’s library. Some might even consider it deceptive. Still, buying books, whether or not you read them, still reveals things about that individual.They have learned, to some degree, that books lend to aspects of appearances. They want to be associated with certain things or they may look to books for some sort of prestige.
Buying books has implications. We can admit that, but I’m not sure having read one’s entire library remains one of them. Right? Surely I’m not the only one who falls short of that level of thoroughness.
Buying books and not reading them may just be building a personal library. While obviously the “not reading” part is less than ideal, why pass up the lifetime progression through nickel garage sales, 75¢ scholastic flier buys, teen pulp, cut-your teeth classics, supplemental college material, and hope-to-read treasure tomes?
Building a library is more than building a reading list. It’s stocking up on resources for you, your household, and lending out. It’s about plotting out what you want to read over years rather than weekends.
I have a pretty extensive personal library. Which is nice, because I’ve definitely reached more frugal years! And, I have memories and associations with various books, whether or not I’ve completely read them all.
Why feel guilty when sometimes you just haven’t had time to read? (Or write?) Why must there be deadlines on such wonderful things as books? Let’s leave that to libraries and live in the joy and freedom of Jesus and renewals. 😉