Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Great Books I Have Not Read

A Robert Fulford column in today's National Post caught my eye. It was entitled "The great unread: Many have bought these books, but has anyone ever finished them?"

I can't link to the item because the money-grubbing Post restricts most of its online articles to people who also have a subscription... (so why do they even have a website?)

Anyway, rant aside, the article was both illuminating and quite funny.

There is a twisted theory that publishing may in fact depend for its survival on printing "famous" books everyone feels obliged to buy but that no one really ever reads or finishes.

Fulford quotes some learned commentators on the subject. Anthony Burgess thinks this is probably a good thing. If you don't read those books, you'll never know how bad most truly are and so you can't feel depressed or angry that you've been duped into shelling out $40 for garbage.

Paul Wells of Maclean's magazine confesses that being a "serial book unfinisher" makes him feel ungrateful. "The author put his life into these people, and I can't even stick around to see who lives or who dies?" Sounds like me.

It's gotten to the point that a fellow in Vienna one day decided to create a Library of the Unread Book.

Julius Deutschbauer figured that the number of books unread probably exceeds that of the number actually read. Wise calculation, no doubt. He collected more than 400 books, all donated, that all share one thing in common: their owners would have liked to have read them, but never got around to it.

Now, that's my kind of library...

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:07 pm

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