>I have about 3,000 books. I’m certain of that because I entered them all into a database. What I’m less certain of is the number of those books that I’ve actually read. My fear–which, unfortunately, is not without justification–is that I’ve opened no more than half of those. At most. Okay, I’ve admitted it. I buy them, I want to read them, but I don’t. Not all of them, anyway. It’s not only embarrassing, it’s downright oppressive, with all those unread books staring at me from the shelves. (Okay, that part’s an exaggeration; most of the shelves are in the living room, safely hidden from view for most of the working day.)

Today, though, I declare a moratorium on book-buying. There is no more room on the shelves (the latest purchases are piled on a bench, wondering where they’re going), the economy sucks and I’ve started turning down consulting jobs to focus on writing anyway, and here’s the kicker: if I read one book a week for the next 30 years, assuming my estimate is close, I will just about finish reading what I have at hand today (and never mind the journals that will keep rolling in until I take some action to make them stop, and the free books I’ll be getting to review, and anything I might accidentally borrow from the library).

Like a middle-east ceasefire, I don’t expect this moratorium to last long. But maybe it will give me some time to create the illusion of progress in digging out of the mess I’ve created.

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  1. >I CANNOT believe you have this post, Cliff. We must be on the same wavelength. I was thinking the exact same thing. I’m completely mortified to see I’ve run out of room on shelves and piles on shelves and have now resorted to stacking them on the floor. Gasp. Okay, I’m with you. No more buying for me until I’ve done away with the piles and emptied a shelf.

  2. >Gracious. 3,000.

    I believe I have about 500 books, and at the end of May, I must pay to move them 5,000 miles at a cost of $1.32 per pound. I packed a bagful to give to the library, but that hardly made a dent.

    Cliff and Kat, once I’m in the neighborhood, may I check out books from your libraries?

  3. >I once tried to limit myself to one new book for every three read, and after I’ve worked through a goodly number in my backlog I’ll probably reinstate that rule.

    Carol, you are welcome to come borrow books, as long as you don’t embarrass me by reading through my entire collection before I do.

  4. >Cliff,
    I like your idea better than mine. That’s what I’ll do. This way I’ll be able to buy a book that’s hot while it’s still hot.

    You can definitely borrow from me, Carol. And we can drive up together to raid Cliff’s. 😉

  5. >We still have the problem of what to do with them, though, don’t we? Unless Carol borrows enough to relieve the pressure until I can build a new wing on the house . . .

  6. >Cliff, I put a moratorium on myself like this a few years ago and I’m proud to say it’s still holding. The library was my major methadone.

    Another trick is to treat your 3000 books as a library and not care if you get them back.

  7. >Katie, I agree. I’m always thrilled when someone borrows a book from me and doesn’t return it. Victory! After all, I can always buy it again to the benefit of the fine author.

  8. >May I start, Cliff, by putting a hold on the Hollinghurst? But I fear I’ll have to buy Cloud Atlas before I arrive. I have been so disciplined about not reading that one yet, but it’s the top of my wanna-wanna-wanna-read list right now.

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