The other day, I discovered this article on The Telegraph’s website that claims that books aren’t meant to be read. I couldn’t disagree more, and so I decided it was time to write a blog…
The article, which you can read here, is based upon a survey which found that the average home contains 138 books and that half of those books have never been read. The author also concludes that “[he’s] surprised it is as low as a half” because “books aren’t meant to be read.”
Now, I appreciate that I buck the trend a little – I own around a thousand books (I’ve never taken the time to count them all), and only a score or so have yet to be read. Even the ones that I haven’t read are on my ‘to be read‘ pile, and I even keep them on a separate bookcase to differentiate them from the ones that I’ve finished.
But still, to say that “books aren’t meant to be read” is a grand statement, and one that Christopher Howse, the author of the piece, should be mildly ashamed of. The main gist of his argument seems to be that, by reading a book, you sully it.
I’ll agree that books do degrade when you read them – that’s part of what makes them books, and it adds character. I recently wrote about my love of second-hand books, and part of the reason that I love second-hand books is because they’ve been read before – it almost makes them more desirable.
Unfortunately, Howse seems to be preoccupied by the illusion of knowledge – it’s clear from both his pompous writing style and his attitude towards books, which he thinks should be seen and not read. I feel differently – books are meant to be read, and they thrive on it.
So let’s try to skew these figures for the better – search through the books on your bookshelves, pick out any that you haven’t read and either read them or pass them on to a friend. I’m always willing to consider a book for review if no-one else will take it!
But don’t let books die on your bookshelves – a book that isn’t read is like an album that’s never played. It’s stuck in the ether, between life and death – for heaven’s sake, put it out of its misery and read it.