Sunday, October 09, 2011

Have you read all those books? Of course not

There is a silly piece of research, funded by the wine company Lindeman's, reported in today's Daily Mirror:
The majority of books on British bookshelves never have their pages thumbed, a survey has revealed. Research from Lindeman’s wine suggests up to 70% of all household books remain unread, resulting in book ‘waste’ of 80 books per household. And a third of owners even admit they have no intention of reading their books.
Somewhere behind this nonsense lies the idea that reading and owning books is a form of showing off. Why an aspirational brand like Lindeman's wants to identify itself with it is anyone's guess.

The truth is that the mark of a booklover is precisely that he has not read all the books he owns.

If I see a book about Leicestershire or Shropshire, I am very likely to but it. But I am very unlikely to read it from cover to cover as soon as I get it home. It is much more likely that I will flick through it, put it on a shelf and open it again only when I am planning a day out.

By contrast, once I have read a novel I may well give it to Oxfam to sell.

It's the books you haven't read that you keep: it's the ones you have read that you get rid of - unless you really love them.

1 comment:

Andrew Hickey said...

I don't know... I certainly don't read *every* book I buy as soon as I get it, I've always got a backlog, but for me the ratio is more 90% of books read, 10% unread at present (either because I started them and found them dull, or because they were bought as reference books, or because I haven't started them yet).

The really scary thing about that is that it suggests that most households only have around a hundred books, and have only read around thirty of those. *That* is a scary figure. There are individual *authors* by whom I've read more than thirty books, and I don't think of myself as hugely well-read...