Who doesn’t love bookish statistics?
I’ve been cataloguing my library over on LibraryThing since 2006, well before I started blogging. I have a lifetime membership there and that $25 is among the best I’ve ever spent. Not only does it help me keep track of books across two continents, it also helps me keep track of what I’ve read and tells me all sorts of fascinating statistics about my own reading.
My preferred view uses my tags and my dates read and acquired to help me sort my unread piles and my “read in whatever year” database. Since we’re almost at the close of 2011, I was poking around to see what my general trends look like, and I hit on a startling realisation; more than 4/5 of the books I read this year were also acquired by me this year. Since only 80 or so books acquired in 2011 are left in the “unread” tag, that means that I have over 400 books which I basically haven’t touched this year at all.
Am I alone in this? Do books lose their charm that quickly after I buy them? It seems that if I don’t read them in the few months after their acquisition, I simply never read them at all. Time just slips by – and that book which was so fascinating in July 2008 seems to hold little appeal in December 2011. In fact, it seems none of the books I bought in 2009 hold any appeal as I haven’t read even one this year!
For me, I think this is partly because of the lure of the new book, the more exciting, shinier one that has just arrived on the shelf. It’s also partly because I get, still, quite a few books for review, and they tend to supercede books that are sitting on the shelves. I do have a couple of excuses, though; for one thing, many of my oldest TBRs still live in my parents’ house in New Jersey, so I can’t get to them very often, and for another, I have one TBR bookcase and the older ones just naturally fall behind the newer ones.
This discovery has me wondering what sort of goal I should set for myself in order to turn the trend around. How can I start to read more books that I’ve had for years? There is the theory of the book buying ban, of course, but I don’t really want to inflict that on myself. Seeing the unread numbers go down is always nice, but I like buying books and I’m going to enjoy doing so while I can. I think, instead, I should make an effort to prioritise.
So, for every month next year, before I buy a new book, I need to read two books that I bought in the same month in a previous year. In January, that means I’ll need to read two I bought in January 2011, 2010, 2009, or earlier. Only then will I be allowed to acquire more. That’s only 24 older ones over the course of the year, but perhaps discovering older gems will remind me to continue reading more, and lessen my constant need to buy new.
Do you find that the newer books get read before the older ones in your house, too?