The same one I make every year, honestly. But I thought if I shared it publicly maybe I could shame myself into actually keeping it.
Here’s the thing. In our household we acquire books like lint. They just show up and stick to us.
Gifts, impulse buys, review copies… some of them (more than I like to admit) ….well, I have no memory of how they got here at all. But I know there will always be more.
I used to be able to keep up with them. I was a bus commuter, for one thing, and teaching and writing was about a thirty-hour work week. So I had the time and opportunity. But then circumstances forced me to change jobs and now it’s a forty-to-fifty hour work week and we use the car, so there’s no extra ninety minutes a day to read.
Unfortunately, when we altered our work situation we did not alter our lifestyle. The Shelf of Shame, which is how we refer to the pile of unread books by the nightstand, is now waist-high.
A fair amount of it’s comics. When my trusty local retailer closed a few years ago, I did not reinstate a pull list anywhere else, but instead applied the comics budget to used book collections on Amazon and elsewhere. I discovered to my delight that I could spend ten dollars and instead of getting three newsstand 32-page booklets, I could get two or three trade paperback collections, sometimes even hardcovers. The only thing I was sacrificing was being au courant with Marvel and DC. Which I really don’t care about. At the same time, hardcover collection prices for books like the DC Archive series and others were dropping to levels that I could actually afford.
And a lot of it comes from writing this column. I do a piece on, say, Michael Moorcock and it provokes a rush of “that reminds me, I was going to get….” whatever. In that particular case it was The Cornelius Chronicles and Tales of the White Wolf. Total expenditure– about seven bucks. White Wolf was a pristine first edition hardcover, too.
Other times I think of a column topic and that results in more books arriving. It goes both ways. For example, both of these will feature in upcoming pieces here.
Now, if you want to say I have poor impulse control or I should be mindful of the lack of storage space in this apartment, well, that’s fair comment.
But, see, I don’t regret the acquisitions. My regret is that I never have time to READ them. And they pile up.
So here is the resolution: for the next few weeks, I am going to read at least two and preferably three books from the Pile and build columns around those. I will not acquire new books until I’ve put at least a dozen of these into the finally-read-it-now-shelve-it pile. Hopefully more. But by God, 2020 is going to be the year I get ahead of these.
Okay? So now I’m committed. Wish me luck, folks.
Back next week with something cool… from the Shelf of Shame.