Books I Have Not Read

Now there’s a title for a blog post. Of course I’m not talking about all books in the published universe that I have not read yet – just the ones on the shelf behind me. I’m not entirely sure why I clarified that either, because you would have figured that out for yourself, right ?

Let’s start by stating the obvious – I love books. A wonderful friend on the internet summed up my thoughts about books a while ago when she made a t-shirt with the words “A Book is a Port in a Storm” printed across it.

Back when I lived with my parents, visitors would wander into my bedroom and be taken aback at the number of books I had. Everything from fiction, to biographies, memoirs, humor, conspiracy theories, and all manner of science books. The science books were mostly down to a small independent book shop next to the bus station at Gloucester Green in Oxford. While waiting for the bus home after a shopping trip at the weekend, I would look into the bookshop and invariably come away with a bag full of new books to read. I can still remember sitting up all night in my first apartment reading “A Beautiful Mind” – several years before the movie came out.

The first furniture I bought for my first apartment were two pine bookcases – we still have them – one of them stands behind me in the junk room where I’m sitting now, and the other sits in our eldest daughter’s bedroom – filled with her growing collection of Manga books. I remember the first time my future in-laws visited my apartment – a memorable story for another time, when we went for a walk “to the end of the world” –  and my late father-in-law spent quite some time looking at the books on my shelves. He pulled “Moby Dick” out, and commented that he had tried to read it several times, and failed – he smiled when I told him I had done the same.

Among the myriad books, movies, and miscellany stacked on the bookshelf behind me there is a slowly growing collection of books that I’ve been meaning to read for quite some time. Years in some cases. Everything from Neil Gaiman’s “Neverwhere”, to Neal Stephenson’s “Snowcrash”, and Robert Heinlein’s “Stranger in a Strange Land”. Somewhere on the bookshelf there is a copy of “We”, by Yevgeny Zamyatin.

I started reading Neverwhere, and loved it – but then got distracted by a friend telling me “there’s this book you would really love called ‘Ready Player One'”. That kind of thing happens to me a lot. I started reading “Catch 22” a couple of years ago, and it too now sits somewhere on the bookshelf, half finished – I’ll have to start reading it again, because I’ve forgotten everything about it.

I need to start making time to read again. Time to sit down and bury myself in a book. Half the problem (for me at least) is the almost total absence of peace and quiet at home. Evenings and weekends tend to be a headlong panic to either get from A to B, deliver somebody else from A to B, or to attack the vertical cliff of clothes and junk spread all over the house. I’ve lost count of the number of times my other half has discovered me slumped across the bed with a thumb still tucked between the pages of a book at my side.