It is said that you can tell a lot about a person by the books they read. What about the books a person doesn't read? Today, I was cleaning out the tatami room upstairs and counted forty-seven books piled up next to the stereo. This is the room where we sleep and we don't keep much in it, but forty plus books have managed to find their way up there and never made it out. Most of the books are unread, pulled from the bookcases downstairs and taken to read in the quiet moments before sleep. Some, like Vikram
Seth's A Suitable Boy
, are tomes too cumbersome to toss into my purse to be consumed on the train. There are books that failed to call out to me to be picked up the next night, now buried beneath other titles that remain unread, yet are still in that limbo land of the ever multiplying "to-be-read pile." I found a few self help titles and weight loss guides; books I finger when, at the end of the day, all I can think is "something
to change." A few books are old friends, like The Simple Living Guide
, whose ideals and philosophy I admire, but accept that I am far too much a lazy, materialistic glutton to ever live up to. Some parenting guides are there, books whose advice makes me laugh at myself when I follow it. "Are you feeling angry?" just doesn't role of the tongue in the same satisfying way as "Don't you speak to me that way, young lady!" Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth
is there, a gorgeous, fascinating book that is, unfortunately, too depressing to read in its entirety within a week. Then we have the Harvard Psychologist Carol Gillian's The Birth of Pleasure
, on loan from a friend, highly recommended, thrice dipped into, a book that taunts me with the reminder that no matter how I wish it to be so, I am not an intellectual. I am not giving the impression that I love books here, but I do. I can't count the number of books tucked into all the cupboards downstairs - the books I really want to read, the books I have yet to sample, and perhaps most importantly, the books that have the distinction of being titles with which I cannot part and are nestled in their permanent home in my bookshelves. No, the books upstairs are kind of like leftovers - you don't really want to eat them, but you can't bring yourself to throw them away either - the waste! Presently, I am reading at the pace of about a book a week. Perhaps I will count them again at the end of the year and if the number has grown to fifty-two, I will make it my resolution to read all those books next year. For now though, I am going to tuck back into The Woman at the Washington Zoo,
who knows in which pile it will end up?