Culling the herd

Yesterday I saw my bookshelf with fresh eyes.

Although I walk past it 10 times a day, I hadn’t noticed its sorry state until last night. The top tier looked like a game of Jenga, three layers high. At the very peak was a stack of books I’ve been meaning to finish. They’ve been haunting me for weeks, taunting me with their bookmark tongues.

So I grabbed a paper bag and packed up my tormentors. I felt a pang of guilt as I pulled The Book Thief from its precarious perch. It’s a fine read, I’m sure. I just never built up the momentum to finish it. I gave it to my boss; maybe he’ll fare better.

I also gave up on The Happiness Myth. It was interesting—and I agreed with Jennifer Hecht’s thesis—but after four or five chapters I’d read enough. When I returned that tome my friend Tom (aka The Blogfodder), he admitted that he hadn’t finished it either.

The Book of Tibetan Elders will go to my friend Amy, and The 2005 World Almanac will go to the Goodwill.

My little exercise in herd culling left me feeling relieved, like a weight had been lifted. It also made me swear that I won’t buy another book until I finish the ones I have.

I realized last night that when it comes to books, I’m like a glutton at a buffet. I can’t resist the steaming piles of clearance titles that beckon at the mall. (Maybe that’s how I ended up with Table Saw Tips and Tricks.) But last night I resolved to toss the half-eaten greasy egg rolls and go on a book diet.

Suddenly my interest in reading is renewed. Clearing out the excess reminded me of some forgotten gems. Up next? Being Caribou, a gift from my friend Jim.

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