Everyone and their mother has a list about the best things they’ve read and all that, but what about the books they didn’t get to? What about the dusty tomes that sit on your shelf and, like the dental floss above the sink, make you feel like a better person than you probably are.
In honor of my new bookshelf and also the near unforgivable lack of reading I did this year, I present to you my favorite books I own but have not opened even once.
The Well-Tempered City: What modern science, ancient civilizations, and human nature teach us about the future of urban life.
By: Jonathan F. P. Rose
I’m not entirely sure about the arguments in this book, (again, haven’t read a word), but I have now learned that even my getting a book for free doesn’t increase the odds of my iphone-addled brain reading anything longer than a tweet. I got this at a pop up magazine event, and they had stacks of this book they were just giving away.
“Take it?” I asked the lady that appeared to be in charge.
“Sure!” she said.
“But it’s a hardcover!”
It didn’t seem to matter. These idiots, I thought. They’re throwing money away. I took one, to both reward and also punish this seemingly irresponsible behavior. And then I never read it.
Now I’m starting to think it was actually part of some study on how many Brooklyn hipsters who claim they prefer, “The feel of actual pages in your hands to some bullshit e-reader,” will actually read those actual pages. I bet as soon as I open the cover a bell will ring and I will be presented with a piece of dark chocolate with sea salt. Even the author’s name is suspicious. F.P. Rose? F prose?? Not TODAY, modern science. I’m onto you.
Odds of reading: 2 out of 5 kindles
The Nightingale: a Novel
By: Kristin Hannah
This is kind of cheating, because it’s next on my to-read list. I’m finishing up All the Light We Cannot See, a lovely yet horribly depressing book about the atrocities of World War II. I had mentioned I was reading that to several people over the holiday and each of them said, “Oh! I know just the book for you next!”
“Another equally depressing book about the horrible atrocities of World War II!”
Why do we always do this? I feel like there are no palette cleansers anymore. It’s just reminders of our own mortality all the way down.
Anyway, according to the front cover, this book is about a French woman named Vianne who has to make “One impossible choice after another,” while she lives with the German soldiers who requisitioned her house. What a hoot.
Odds of Reading: 5 out of 5 kindles
To Kill A Mockingbird
By: Harper Lee
No. I haven’t. And I’m not sorry. Nobody’s perfect, alright? I realize it’s a seminal piece of literature, and I know I’m supposed to be a writer, but guess what? I might not even get around to it. And while we’re at it, here are some other classics I’ve missed:
War and Peace
The last three thousand pages of Infinite Jest
Leaves of Grass
As I lay Dying
A Tale of Two Cities
I have, however, read all of Dan Brown’s books and I very much enjoyed them.
Odds of Reading: 3 out of 5 kindles
ALL OF THE SELF HELP BOOKS
Deep Work: Rules for focused success in a distracted world
By: Cal Newport
The Slight Edge
By: Jeff Olson
Several Short Sentences about Writing
By: Verlyn Klinkenborg
I just… I can’t do it. Every couple of months I’ll pull one off the shelf and think, this is a great way to start the morning. Tomorrow morning. I’ll make a nice cup of coffee, sit back in my bathrobe, and change my life. And then I put it back, where it remains until the next charade. It’s become a nice little tradition. Like the harvest time, or weighing myself on January 2nd. One day, if I ever become motivated, I’ll crack one of these bad boys open and give it a real go. The only problem is, in order to become more motivated, I’ll have to read one of these books. It’s a vicious cycle.
Odds of Reading: 1 out of 5 kindles
McSweeney’s Quarterly Concerns, Volume 50
Rex Tillerson’s IKEA desk apologizes for not being able to read much lately.
Odds of Reading: 4 out of 5 kindles
I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell
By: Tucker Max
I lied. I have read this. I’m really sorry.