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Bookshelf Project 2016: #1–Pitch Dark

2016 January 23
by Jill



One of the tenets of Marie Kondo’s de-cluttering method is that if you haven’t read the books on your shelves yet, you never will.

This is a tenet I flat out eschewed as I recently weeded out my book collection. (That one and the one where Kondo calls for total and complete silence as you declutter–podcasts all the way). I have dozens of books on my shelves that I’ve acquired over the years but haven’t gotten around to reading yet, for whatever reason. But just because I haven’t read them YET doesn’t mean I will never read them. That’s like admitting failure and I won’t do that.

However, these unread books have been nagging me a little bit more as time passes. What if I actually don’t read them? What am I waiting for?

So, in 2016, I’ve decided to work through all of the unread books on my shelves, in a somewhat systematic order. The plan is to tackle my unread books (and some books that I haven’t read in so long they’re begging for a reread) in alphabetical order, alternating genre. Ideally, I will go back and forth between fiction, nonfiction, and short story collections. I will still break for new books from time to time, but I’m aiming for the bulk of my 2016 reading to come from my own bookshelves. And I’m hoping to document the project here on the blog…because why not? It’s not like I’ve really been documenting anything else around here lately.

First up: Renata Adler’s Pitch Dark.

I picked up this first edition in a dead man’s basement in October. While ambling through the South End on a gorgeous fall afternoon with two friends who were visiting from Ohio, we came across an estate sale. Not one to turn down the chance to poke through someone else’s life (ok, that sounds shadier than it is…I like to look at people’s books and art and stuff, ok?), I asked my friends if they’d be into it. They agreed, and we descended into a dark old townhouse, crammed with piles of books and other decades-old ephemera. We spent the better part of an hour looking around. I tried to put together a picture of the man who’d lived in the house, but it was difficult. I asked the man out front who was running the sale if the man had been in publishing because of all the books–many of which he had multiple copies. The man said no, he’d just really enjoyed books. Most of the books were old history books and spy novels, but I found this first edition Adler in a cabinet in the basement and decided that for the $1 price, I could take it home with me.

I read Speedboat a few years ago in Brooklyn, in the midst of the Adler renaissance. And honestly….I didn’t really get it. I started Pitch Dark yesterday and so far…it’s disjointed and befuddling, but there have been some really beautiful moments, so I’m optimistic. I think she’s just a writer that has a different rhythm that I need to get used to.

Have you read Renata Adler? What are your thoughts? Do you have any books on your shelves that are still waiting to be read? What are you waiting for?



3 Responses Post a comment
  1. January 27, 2016

    Good for you for tackling your bookshelves in 2016. I don’t agree w/ the idea of getting rid of them either – I buy a lot of books at random when I happen to come across them (like said estate sale for $1) and tuck them away to read.
    When I’ll actually get to read for fun again is a whole other matter entirely…but I’ll get to enjoy books vicariously through you if you document them here!

  2. January 28, 2016

    This is great! I wish I were doing this, but I got 6 books for Christmas, have my team sending me ARCs whenever I see something interesting, and talk about buying new bookshelves instead of culling them. Maybe I should get that Kondo book. But then I’m just buying another book, you know?

  3. Anne Roy permalink
    January 30, 2016

    I have lots of books … 4 yard wide floor to ceiling bookcases … all doubt stacked … then various piles, rows on pieces of furniture … d*mn Amazon & the penny plus postage offers …

    I do read them … right now I am trying to put them in some order … history (many books on WW1), murder mysteries (bedtime reading), literary biographies, letters …

    I work full time but expect to live to retire when I am going to read more …

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