The Books That Silently Judge Me

Now I know it may seem that I read a ton of books (and I do). But what I don’t often mention is that in addition to the large pile of books I plow through quickly, I have a separate, dustier pile that either sits on the wayside, ignored because I own it and thereby will get to it someday, or gets constantly renewed only to be sheepishly returned without ever being read.

This is the pile that occasionally, I bury because I don’t want to feel them judging me. You know, like all the art supplies or Chinese educational materials I buy for the children in place of actually spending time with them. They, too, judge me from their shelved spots, pristine and neglected.

I know I have written mostly about the science fiction, fantasy, and romance novels, but I am interested in other genres as well. I do also occasionally enjoy books about history (1491, 1493, Salt), autobiographies/memoirs (Rumsfeld, Condaleeza Rice), education, and parenting. Unfortunately, I often get excited about these types of books but then when I get them from the library, I just can’t bring myself to read them until the day or two before they are due and then I am in a rush and a time crunch and can’t seem to make it through in time.

However, I find that though I can speed through fiction at 80 pages an hour, with non-fiction, it’s as if my brain recognizes facts and then goes, “REJECT! REJECT! REJECT!” Hence, I have to read and absorb at a much slower pace. I rarely can read a nonfiction book all the way through in one sitting. (I blame Orson Scott Card’s column where he reviews tons of books – and I temporarily forget myself and think, perhaps I’m one of those people who can read history and memoirs and such without my brain exploding.)

Alas, alas. I am NOT. I struggle to read non-fiction and I mostly shove the books to the side despite all my best intentions. And I feel guilt! So much guilt! Because I am preventing someone else who might enjoy these very same books from reading them because I have these books constantly renewing through the library.

And then, sometimes, I just give up and return the books (often after accruing late fees due to my overly optimistic view that I will actually read and finish the books) and shove the guilt away.

I don’t know why I feel guilty except for the fact that I feel as if these are books I should read because they are serious and intellectual and improving. These books are also on topics that seemed so interesting in Card’s reviews, too! (Well, I suppose he is a writer and he does love these topics so of course he will love these books and since he’s a great writer, I am thus persuaded.) But what I really enjoy are short snippets and excerpts from such books – not the whole thing. It seems, to my chagrin, I am a tl;dr type of gal after all.

Am I the only one? I realize this is truly a first world problem – and not really a big problem at that. (Oh no! Quelle horreur! There are too many books! That I haven’t read! That are supposed to make me smarter!) But I do think I would find some comfort in knowing that I’m not the only one to borrow stacks of books from the library with every intention of reading and delving into these reservoirs of knowledge to improve myself only to return these same books three weeks later (sometimes nine), uncracked.

It makes me sad to think of these lonely books waiting for me to re-notice them and find them interesting and pretty.

I’m sorry, pretty books. I will try to do better by not getting your hopes up in the first place.