Ten Books Unread (Why We Don’t Read Books)

Ten books I have not read:

1) Middlemarch by George Eliot
2) The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
3) Moby Dick by Herman Melville (unfinished)
4) The Alchemist by Paul Coelho
5) A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Bettie Smith
6) Dune by Frank Herbert (unfinished)
7) The Name of the Rose by Umberto echo
8) Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift (unabridged)
9) The Time Machine by HG Wells
10) A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

I read a lot. When I hit my stride, it can be more than a book a day. In linguistic anthropology there’s a principle that for every word you say, you don’t say 1000 others. It is the same for books. Every time you pick up one book, you do not pick up any other book that has been written. This is why there will always be books you haven’t read.

More interesting are the reasons why we don’t read them.

1) Stubbornness

When I learned piano, I refused to learn Fur Elise. I could listen to it without being annoyed, but it was what every other person was learning to play. This is what has prevented me from reading The Scarlet Letter. I have nothing against Nathaniel Hawthorne. I picked up a book of his short stories once. But the way that they push it on highschoolers could give drug dealers lessons.

As with Beethoven, this has led me to miss out on a work of literature that has stood the test of time, is revered by many, and provides introduction to American literature to most.

Not a good enough reason for me not to read it

2) Forgotten and Someday Books

The Alchemist and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn fall into this category. I only remembered these two specifically because I was browsing through my new library and saw the titles. I thought to myself, “I’ll read them later.” Then I moved on to something else. I probably will read them later, but only if I remember to write them down. Neither of them have been impressed upon me by other readers and, while I know they are modern classics, I always seem to have another book that is more insistent.

This is also not a good enough reason to not read a book, but it is easily alleviated. I keep a book journal. In it I list out the books I would like to read and read them as I can get a hold of them. Both Both books are the available at my local library, so they will probably come off the list in the next year.

The forgotten books are usually those that I don’t feel like buying and are not worth going out of my way to find. Frequently, I discover I’ve missed out on something quite wonderful by putting them off.

3) The Projects

Even though I write posts on making classics accessible, there are the classics that I haven’t approached. While I am not avoiding them, I usually want to dedicate a period of time to them to treat them as they deserve. Then I make excuses if I have a different time block. The problem with this logic is that I can indefinitely put them off. The three books in this category for me are Middlemarch, the Name of the Rose, and Moby Dick. Each of these books I intend to read this year, partly because they are towers of their own and partly because they have lasted for a reason.

3) Story Dread

There are books that I have begun and gotten significantly into, but I can see the trajectory of the story. If it follows through on its promises, then horrible things are going to happen. Or it isn’t going to follow through on it’s promises and I’m going to be grumpy about the storyline. The main book for me in this category is Dune by Frank Herbert. I have really enjoyed the combination of science fiction and fantasy, but I cannot bring myself to finish it. I have picked it up four times, most recently in audiobook format and only made it halfway through. I don’t subscribe to the hundred pages minus your age way of assessing a book. As Alan Bennett said in The Uncommon Reader, “one learns to finish ones books.” I can’t do it with this one. I could list on one hand the number of books in this category.

The thing is I cannot decide if this book will just fall into the next category or if I need to get over myself.

4) Books I Never Intend To Read

This is where A Confederacy of Dunces falls. Like I said at the beginning to choose to read one book is to choose to not read many others. I have read the back cover, the Kindle excerpt, and talked to people who have read it. It does not interest me. And that’s OK. It is not keeping me from reading other books or from talking to people about them. Does not having the intention of reading a book ever mean I never well? No, if someone I wanted to get to know or cared about deeply wanted to read it with me, I would. At that point it is about the person, not the book.

Good enough reason.

5) Other Books Sound Better

In this category are Gulliver’s Travels and The Time Machine. I have read some crummy children’s version of Gulliver’s Travels. I’m sure it does no justice to the real thing. Every time I pick up these two they go back on the shelf for something else. They aren’t forgotten and they aren’t on my
‘to read’ list, they are passed over. I would rather be reading Poe, Goethe, or Jim Butcher. They are adventures and they might sound better than something else someday, but until then I won’t read them sometime at all.

Good Reason.

What we read and what we choose not to read are a part of what make us unique individuals. I need to lay aside my prejudice against The Scarlet Letter. As to the rest, as long as what I am choosing fits the guidelines of quality, diversity, and good old fun what is on my unread list doesn’t bother me too much. The most important thing is not to read in fear or be ashamed of what I haven’t read. Reading is a conscious choice and so what we don’t read should be too.

Happy Reading,
– Kate

Think about the books you DO read and why for the next thirty days.

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Write Your Novel

There is an old maxim that everyone has at least one book inside them. I think sometimes that there may be one book for everyone and many books are locked up inside the heads of those like Rowling and King.

Do you have a book inside you? Do you want to write something, but you haven’t figured it out yet.

Sometimes you just need to dive in and get going.

Have you spent years planning, but getting past the blinking cursor feels impossible?

Its time.

Join the group!


Write Your Novel

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Read What You Mean To

It is 7 o’clock at night and your first free evening in a week or more. You have a cup of tea and uninterrupted quiet time. Lucky you. All you have to do is pick a book. You go to your bookshelf. At the front are three books from the bookstore you picked up that you know you should read. They are sitting in front of half a shelf of books that you’ve been meaning to read. You push them aside and pull out the well loved Agatha Christie, Elizabeth Peters, or Terry Prachett. Just in case you were wondering the ‘you’ in the scenario is me.

I love to reread books, but reading The Curse of the Pharaohs for the seventh time may not be the best use of uninterrupted evening reading time. So, once I realized what I was doing, I came up with a system. Continue reading “Read What You Mean To”

Embrace the Classics

Some classics are obsessed over. I was recently at a classic car show where people of all ages were ogling the many vehicles on display, some predating World War I. They were beautiful.

Then, some classics cause panic, like War and Peace.

When it comes to books, many readers assume they have to be at a certain level to read, appreciate, and understand what was written.

Take thirty days and think about this. These books have lasted because, for the most part, they are accessible and relatable.

We talk about five page classics, the purpose of classics, and the importance of quality over quantity.

You might make a friend who has the wisdom of the ages.

  • Kate


Embrace the Classics

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Well Read

I remember watching a learning show when I was a kid. There was a bear who always sang, “There’s always one more thing to learn.” I only remember that line and it plays over and over into my brain. It has scarred my subconscious. That ear worm may be to blame for my jaunts into many disciplines.
The last time it was physically possible for one person to read every single book in the world is estimated around 1500. Since then we have had to choose what we read and what we don’t read. There is a subjective list of books that includes the Iliad and Moby Dick most people say makes up a well read person. But what is a well read person? And can someone spurred onward by a half forgotten song apply?

If it is the time spent reading, then my two-year-old who spends an hour a day pouring over Richard Scary and Good Night, Moon might be well read. If it is pages read, then at 15, when I didn’t read much other than thriller and gothic horror, I covered a lot of ground. Continue reading “Well Read”

Develop A Reading Habit

If ten thousand hours makes you an expert, then there is something I’m an expert in.
The problem is the more expertise I gain, the more I realize how little expertise I have. Maybe everyone who has a subject they are good at sees things that way.  I’m an expert in reading. Technically. I have been paid to teach it, which makes me a professional. So, let me share a simple path to developing a habit that can give you access to many realms of expertise.
Reading is a skill that will reverberate into many areas of life, bridging the personal and professional. Over the course of thirty days, we’ll discuss the essence of habit, the scientific value of reading, and how to vary your reading speed among other things. Join the Facebook group. Print out a punchcard. Most importantly, grab a good book and enjoy it.
– Kate

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Building Ideas Worth Writing

The ideas hit me right in the center of other writing projects. It is classic ‘greener grass’ syndrome. I dabble in memoir while drafting my fantasy novel or write blog posts when I should be editing.
The more I write, the more the ideas flow. Some are great, like my current novels (Spoilers!) and some are like my brilliant short story idea where teens manifest abilities through physical growths. He grew the third eye! Need I say more?
While you might not have a supportive husband who will look at you and say, “No,” in a horrified manner, there are a few simple ways to see whether an idea has traction or not.

Continue reading “Building Ideas Worth Writing”