06 Jan 2012

The Unread Library

Let me tell you a sad story about a girl who has too many books and not enough place to put them all.

I call it The Story of My Life.

Despite the large percentage of my books that currently live in my parent’s basement in Michigan, I have recently reached capacity for my 3 sizable Boston bookshelves. I didn’t even ask for any books for Christmas this year because I knew I wouldn’t have anywhere to put them, and I wouldn’t have any time to read them.

I told you! This is a SAD story, don’t you think?

A year and a half ago, my pal Jules over at Pancakes & French Fries challenged herself to finishing what she calls The Unread Library that takes up shelf space in her own home. I found this project intriguing, but I’m not sure I could ever make the commitment she has made – to not buy a single book before finishing off those abandoned titles. First of all, I have so many unread books, it would probably take me over a year to complete this task. Being that I only buy 3-4 books a year anyway, I would consider the exercise somewhat masochistic – why torture myself when my input is so low anyway?  I think a more effective tactic would be for me to freeze my library card in a hunk of ice until I finish them all… but watching Jules make steady progress on her stack of books is motivating, nonetheless. I’d like to at least document my own Unread Library here, so in July when I am packing up my life into cardboard boxes, I will at least be aware of what books I’ve decided to take with me onto my next life-destination.

Also: please pity my poor, can’t-stand-upright, sway-shelved bookshelf.

  1. Achatz, Grant & Nick Kokonas Life, On the Line
  2. Anderson, M.T. The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, vol 2: The Kingdom on the Waves
  3. Atwood, Margaret Negotiating with the Dead
  4. Betancourt, Ingrid Even Silence Has An End
  5. Bowe, John Us: Americans Talk About Love
  6. Brown, Renni & Dave King Self-Editing for Fiction Writers
  7. Burnett, Frances Hodgson The Secret Garden
  8. The Chronicles of Harris Burdick
  9. Dahl, Roald Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  10. DiCamillo The Magician’s Elephant
  11. Donnelly, Jennifer Revolution
  12. Eggers, Dave ed. The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2007
  13. Friedman, Thomas L. The World is Flat
  14. Gantos, Jack Dead End in Norvelt
  15. Goldberg, Natalie Writing Down the Bones
  16. Holloway, Kris Monique and the Mango Rains
  17. Jarzab, Anna All Unquiet Things
  18. Jewett, Sarah Orne A Country Doctor
  19. Johnson, Marilyn This Book is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybrarians can save us all
  20. Karr, Mary The Liar’s Club
  21. Kipling, Rudyard The Jungle Books: Vol 1
  22. Kipling, Rudyard The Jungle Books: Vol 2
  23. Krauss, Nicole The History of Love
  24. Levithan, David The Lover’s Dictionary
  25. Meloy, Colin Wildwood
  26. Miller, Sarah The Other Girl
  27. Moriarty, Jaclyn The Spell Book of Listen Taylor
  28. O’Brien, Caragh Birthmarked
  29. Oliver, Lauren Delirium
  30. Pessl, Marisha Special Topics in Calamity Physics
  31. Phelan, Matt The Storm in the Barn
  32. Riggs, Ransom Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
  33. Robbins, Tom Still Life With Woodpecker
  34. Scofield, Sandra The Scene Book
  35. Setterfield, Diane The Thirteenth Tale
  36. Skloot, Rebecca The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
  37. Smiley, Jane 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel
  38. Suma, Nova Ren Imaginary Girls
  39. Tough, Paul Whatever It Takes
  40. Troost, J. Maarten The Sex Lives of Cannibals
  41. Turner, Nancy These Is My Words
  42. Twain, Mark Autobiography of Mark Twain, vol. 1
  43. Wallace, David Foster Brief Interviews With Hideous Men
  44. Wallace, David Foster Infinite Jest

P.S. I am fairly sure than when Jules posted her list, I laughed at it’s dainty nature. However, now that I have compiled this list fully, I see that we are exactly evenly matched. Although I am willing to place bets that my own Book to Square Foot of Real Estate ratio is much, much higher. I can’t escape them. They are everywhere.


  1. Ashley wrote:

    I have a bunch of books in my parents’ basement as well, and I’m also out of room in my tiny apartment, but I continue on recklessly! If I ever disappear, please tell someone I’m probably trapped under my books.

    Posted on 1.8.12 · Reply to comment

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