- Lawrence De Maria
- October 18, 2018
In defense of my never-to-be-read pile
I get the Sunday editions of the New York Times and the Naples Daily News delivered in print form. Both editions are huge, although the Naples paper mostly contains real estate sections, ads, and coupons.
If you go through the Daily News assiduously, you can find an occasional article about Florida red tide and algae blooms, which threaten to devastate the real estate market and make the edition somewhat thinner.
(Local concern about the environment is so compelling that there is an uncharitable hope that Hurricane Michael, which devastated northern Florida, at least churned up the Gulf enough to dissipate the red tide.)
I’m not sure how much newsprint goes into either Sunday edition, but I do wonder about the media’s real commitment to deforestation.
But I digress.
The Times recently had a great essay in its book-review section: “The Importance of Unread Books: Why a personal library should include books you’ll never get around to finishing” by Kevin Mims. It eased one of my greatest feelings of guilt!
My library is chockfull of books I haven’t read. Or have read partially. I even bring home books from the library that I only skim. Sometimes I don’t read the library books at all and just keep renewing them online, ever hopeful that I’ll get around to them. This, I’m beginning to realize, is not fair to other folks who may be waiting for those books. And since I live in Naples, where the average age is coma, waiting is frowned upon.
Every time visitors see all the books on my shelves, they invariably say, “Wow! You’ve read all those?” And then I usually mumble something like, “What can I get you to drink?”
A small (very small) sampling of my partially read tomes would include:
- A History of the English-Speaking Peoples by Winston Churchill. I tend to read the more-modern stuff, from the American Civil War on. I’m not a big fan of the War of the Roses.
- The Guidebook for Marines. I’ve had it since the 1960s. I should have read it through. I would probably have annoyed my sergeant less and done less KP.
- For Whom the Bell Tolls and many other Hemingway novels. They do look good, though, and impress the hell out of people.
- William Shakespeare: The Complete Works. Be serious.
- Cosmos by Carl Sagan.
- The Bible and the Koran.
- Mein Kampf by you know who. I’ve read just enough to wonder why we didn’t (and still don’t) take lunatics at their word!
- These Truths: A History of the United States by Jill Lepore. Just got it. Read a few chapters. But we all know I’ll never read it cover-to-cover.
Get the picture? I haven’t even scratched the surface. And I haven’t mentioned the digital library on my Kindle. Every now and then, I scroll through it and say, “What was I thinking — or drinking?”
Well, enough for now. I have to go to the library and pick up two more books I probably won’t read entirely, Kate Atkinson’s Transcription and Tana French’s The Witch Elm.
But at least I’m trying, unlike some elected officials we know.
Kevin Mims says it best: “The sight of a book you’ve read can remind you of the many things you’ve already learned. The sight of a book you haven’t read can remind you that there are many things you’ve yet to learn. And the sight of a partially read book can remind you that reading is an activity that you hope never to come to the end of.”
Lawrence De Maria, once a Pulitzer-nominated New York Times reporter, is the author of 18 thrillers and mysteries in print and as e-books available at ST. AUSTIN’S PRESS (BOOKS BY DE MARIA). He would be very happy if people bought his books, even if they don’t read them.