Like many at the post calvin, and unfortunately for my bank account, I have an inescapable habit of buying books. Eight years ago, I was in the habit of buying several books a week; other than the purchase of an $800 car, almost every cent I earned during four years of work during high school went to either the local Books-A-Million (BAM!) or Last Exit Books, my favorite used bookstore in northeast Ohio.
I was borderline addicted, even unsuccessfully giving up the purchasing of new books for Lent one year. My library—which has induced great back pain in the many relocations I have made over the past four years—also benefited from the retirement of two different professors and the inheritance of a family member’s private collection. My habit has since cooled, mostly because as a student who has been in higher education for the past six years, I’ve been conditioned into more prudent patterns of financial spending. This Lent, rather than adding books, I’ve been trying to subtract some (I’m totally not going to trade them in for more).
And, as you could expect, most of the books I own I have not read.
There’s a popular belief that you can come to know someone by their bookshelves. There’s a humorous trend of identifying “red flag” books for dating prospects, like BuzzFeed’s “28 ‘Favorite’ Books That Are Huge Red Flags.” The reverse is also commonly portrayed as true in popular media, with the presence of one’s favorite book being a good omen for someone’s status as a potential partner or for a budding friendship. This happens several times with Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) in How I Met Your Mother (2005–14). But I’m unconvinced this truism has any applicability for people—perhaps the average book consumer—who have a vast shelf of books that remain unread.
In addition to being the season for subtracting books, Lent is also a time for self-discovery, examining our habits and who we are.
What can you know about me through my unread books?
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