Kind of in keeping with a theme I developed yesterday--the amount of work that's burying me at this particular time--I look around me and see something else, another task (or maybe that should be tasks) in my life that I will never come near to completing. Reading just the books I have on hand that I want to read. I work from a study; I'm surrounded on three sides by floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. No, I've not counted them. My best estimate is something like 1,300 volumes, give or take. Now, admittedly, a number of these volumes are reference works: quote books, various dictionaries and thesauri, specialized encyclopedias (military/world/US history; supreme court cases, etc.), writing and usage books, guides (science, physics). Then there reference works within the specialties: baseball encyclopedias, record books, guides, etc. and in chess there are game collections, tournament books, opening/ending/middle game guides. Several Bibles and various theological works--I've read quite a few of these, but not all.
This leaves a huge number of books that are just book books. Books that I have acquired over the course of a long and lengthening lifetime. Which were acquired for either one of two reasons: 1) I needed them for research; or 2) I intended to read them. Books in the first of these categories, necessary for research, are pretty much unobtrusive as far as my conscience is concerned. I got them for research, I see reminders of projects long since or recently finished, remember using the books and being happy I had them here in my library.
And as I scan the shelves I see quite a number of books in the second of these categories, the ones I got to actually read, that I actually have read. But depressingly, quite a few more in the second category that sit accusingly on these shelves reminding me of how fickle I can be when it comes to my reading tastes, much less my reading commitments. Take poetry collections . . . some of these Billy Collins, Stephen Dunn, Stephen Dobyns, Bob Hicok, others I have read whole and entire. Quite a few other collections, I've read a few or several poems. Others, hell, I've never even opened them. And there are a depressing number of books in all subjects that join James Schuyler Collected Poems in the category never even looked at.
It makes me sad to see how many there are in this category, nestled sometimes up against a book I read, but sometimes abutting several more that are likewise unread.
I'll talk some more about this tomorrow. This going on longer than I thought it would.