If this month’s focus from the shed is on all things big then I can’t ignore something HUGE that’s been following me around all my life. It sits by my bed, fills my head, and threatens to topple every shelf in my house. You’ve guessed it. It’s my ‘to be read’ pile.
I never catch up on all the reading I want to do. And when I drift from secondhand shop to library to indie stores, filling my arms with books, I tell myself that buying and borrowing them is kind of the same as reading them. Isn’t it?
Later I’ll get a cup of tea and sit down to look at the pile and smile. I feel well-read and interesting. Erudite, even. But if someone questions me on their contents I fumble an answer (think Father Ted’s confident reply that he preferred the ‘crime’ section of ‘Crime and Punishment’).
I’m not alone, there’s even a word for the phenomenon. Tsundoku (Japanese: 積ん読) is ‘the art of acquiring reading materials but letting them pile up in one’s home without reading them’. There’s something quintessentially alluring about new books: the smell, the cover, the blurb, the very heft in your hands. All that knowledge still to be acquired, or the exciting plot to lose yourself in.
The thing is, I don’t plan to shake the habit. Clutter you say? Away with you. I’ll accrue more and more, no doubt, until I’m fairly drowning in pages. Words are my friend, it’s that simple. And who wouldn’t want to be surrounded by their friends all the time? Especially quiet ones who sit tight until you pick them up to go on a journey together.