I might have mentioned in my recent book reports that I’m working my way through the stack of books beside my sofa that I’ve stacked up to browse during football games. Some of them prove to be harder to browse than others, and they will sort of fall to the bottom of the stack and hang around on the side table (actually, a twenty-something year old Sauder printer stand) for years until I get tired of the stack and reshelve them, partially read or not. The stack contains, generally, a couple books or chapbooks of poetry, art monographs, collections of photography, or craft books.
This year, as the football season has just about ended, I’ve decided to actually read the books in the stack.
No word on the vintage collection of short story magazines underneath, though.
Which got me thinking about the places where incomplete books congregate at Nogglestead.
My chair side table contains the books that I’m currently actively reading or wish I were reading, even if the active part was several years ago:
How many years has it been since I started reading the book on the timelines of history on the bottom shelf? Long enough that the start date is in the middle of the book and not the end. The collection of Shakespeare I started at the beginning of last year is there, as well as the Riverside edition I bought late last year because I thought it might be easier to read. A collection of Keats and Shelley. The first book in Copleston’s History of Philosophy. An encyclopedia of religious leaders. Probably Rabbit Run by Updike yet. There’s a year’s worth of reading there, and that doesn’t count The Count of Monte Cristo which sits on the bar beside the table.
The stack on the dresser in the bedroom is growing:
Last summer, only two books were there: The Montaigne collection (which has been on the dresser since summer of 2017) and Streetcorner Strategy. The dresser acts as a repository for my carry books, books I stick in my gym bag when I’m going to spend a couple of hours at the dojo or that I’ll carry along to appointments. After a while, my zeal for reading them runs out, and I pack along something else, which leaves these partially completed orphans on the dresser, presumably until I reshelve them sometime in 2020.
The longest-tenured collection, though, is in my bedside drawer:
I don’t know if I’ve ever bothered to reshelve books that I’ve put in the drawer.
A couple (five?) years ago, I read in bed before turning out the light, so I got a couple of short chunk books that I could put down when I was sleepy and pick up without having to reread part of a narrative. But it’s been a long time since I did that, but because the books are out of sight, I don’t feel compelled every so often to clean them up. The drawer also contains a collection of Pablo Neruda verse from the days when I read poetry to my children while they played. When they were pre-school age. Eight years ago? Note the volume of Ogden Nash on the dresser was in the drawer for a number of years until I pulled it out last summer for reading on the deck on summer nights. Of which there were not enough to complete the collection and clear it completely from these photos.
I don’t know how many of the books from these accumulation points I’ll actually get through this year–after all, I am still accumulating books from the usual sources that will tempt me into reading them before books longer in the queue.
But however I trim the aging collections, it will feel like de-Rooneyfication when I do, and any stack I complete will come with a slightly greater sense of accomplishment than the other things I read from my to-read shelves.