Unread books

I gathered and counted sixty-seven of them, split almost evenly between Apple Books, Kindle and print. They all still sound as interesting as when I bought them. I won’t need any more books for a while but I don’t need any more self-imposed rules either.

Appropriately, I’m starting with Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows: How the internet is changing the way we think, read and remember.

I crammed for exams in the library’s cavernous reading room, looked up facts in the weighty volumes on the reference shelves, and worked part-time checking books in and out at the circulation desk. Most of my library time, though, went to wandering the long, narrow corridors of the stacks. Despite being surrounded by tens of thousands of books, I don’t remember feeling the anxiety that’s symptomatic of what we today call “information overload.” There was something calming in the reticence of all those books, their willingness to wait years, decades even, for the right reader to come along and pull them from their appointed slots. Take your time, the books whispered to me in their dusty voices. We’re not going anywhere.

Nicholas Carr, The Shallows (2010), chapter one

Nicholas goes on to describe how our tools become a part of us; our brains come to treat them as extensions of our own physical and mental capabilities.

Unlike a lot of recent writing about (and on) the internet, The Shallows so far successfully avoids the CGP Grey trap:

Most arguments about medium compare the best of the old with the worst of the new.

CGP Grey [citation needed]

I’ve accepted the inevitable: some of the sixty seven will forever remain entirely—or just partially—unread. At least by me, at least for now.

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