What That Large Collection of Unread Books Says about You
I’m one of those people who have shelves of books I’ve never read. I’m a book junkie. I buy books with the intention of reading, and now they collect dust.
I have more books than I could ever read. And now, with the high production quality of audiobooks, there’s even less chance I will ever crack open those volumes in my vast collection.
Now that brick-and-mortar bookstores are all, but out of business, I don’t purchase out of impulse as I did in the past. My friends used to physically steer me away from bookstores — I’d say I wanted to look for a minute. They knew better. Once I got inside the doors, I could be inside browsing for days.
Going back to grade school, we had regular book orders through Scholastic Books catalogs. My favorite days were when those orders came in. I had the tallest stack of paperbacks on my desk. Classics, mysteries, science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, espionage thrillers, magic tricks, and joke books were among them.
To see me with the fresh arrival of reading materials was like watching a drug addict getting a long-needed fix. I’d pick each book up and examine it front and back. I’d bring the volumes to my face while fanning the pages in ecstasy. I’d smell them. Something about newly printed pages triggers a dopamine rush for me.
I know I’m not alone here. Many readers have shelves of purchased books that are left untouched. Surrounding ourselves with unread books enriches our lives as they remind us of all we don’t know. It reminds me of a quote by Brazilian physicist Marcelo Gleiser:
As the island of Knowledge grows, so do the shores of our ignorance –the boundary between the known and the unknown. Learning more about the world doesn’t lead to a point closer to a final destination but to more questions and mysteries.
This acts as a counter to the Dunning-Kruger effect, a cognitive bias that leads ignorant people to assume their knowledge or abilities are more proficient than they are.
I discovered today while reading this article in Big Think that the Japanese have a word for this practice of…