I'm piling them up, shuffling the stacks as I come to realize that a good portion of these will only have the first few pages read and some of them barely that. Like decisions that I could have made differently years ago, these are books whose reading time I've bypassed.
Especially when I'm at Half Price and the books are thinner and the artwork on the covers familiar, I'm tempted to believe that they will read easily. Some do and some begin with the willful wistfulness that dissipates as the story moves into its track. Usually it's the story of a girl or of a warrior. Gossip flows around the character and I start to become restless.
By this time, I'm already at home and the book falls into a stack of things I "need to read, sometime." Stacks teeter and sometimes leap out at dogs that aren't careful enough of them. After they jump back, I look at covers that I haven't seen in months and grind my back teeth. Each unread book is an accusation that I moved on without proper care or consideration, that I have a rather slutty approach to reading that does me no good.
Several years ago, I was buying books while participating in a writer's group, hung up on the notion that we paid for our "free" space in the bookstore by book purchases and Frappucinos. I didn't finish anything nor did I sell anything, but I paid dues in stacks of unread novels, natural histories, and how-to-write books.
When I'm tempted to write now, I think of those books. I think of people with more willpower just walking past the shelves and ignoring the effort that pleads like a lost kitten for a warm bookshelf and perhaps a cozy reading. I imagine abandoning my ideas to mewl on the shelves and decide to neither read nor write, but to put a CD in the stereo and wash the dishes.
Perhaps I will shuffle some of the books to the shelves in the back, where I don't look for reading material because it's either already been read or rejected. My husband will eventually give in to the piles and reorganize the books. He's thinking about getting a library program that will track them, similar to the one he has for his comics. I will be able to search for author and title and tote up the randomness of a reading list that stretches like the highway--places I've been, those I missed, and those I hope to get to eventually.
Seeing the exits in the rearview as they stack against the shelves, time becomes heartbeat underfoot, tires spinning beneath me.