Now there's an engaging topic - things never done. Of course, I'm not talking about all books in the published universe that I have not read yet - just the ones on the shelf behind me. I'm not entirely sure why I clarified that either, because you would have figured that out for yourself, right?
Let's start by stating the obvious - I love books. A wonderful friend on the internet summed up my thoughts about books a while ago when she made a t-shirt with the words "A Book is a Port in a Storm" printed across it.
I blame it all on Gloucester Green
Back when I lived with my parents, visitors would wander into my room and be taken aback at the number of books I owned. Everything from fiction, to biographies, memoirs, humour, conspiracy theories, and all manner of science books. The science books could be mostly blamed on a small independent book shop next to the bus station at Gloucester Green in Oxford.
While waiting for the bus home after a shopping trip on a weekend, I would look into the bookshop and invariably come away with an assortment of new books to read. I can still remember sitting up all night in my first apartment reading "A Beautiful Mind" - several years before the movie appeared.
The first furniture I bought for my first apartment was two pine bookcases - we still have them - one of them stands behind me in the junk room where I'm sitting now, and the other sits in our eldest daughter's bedroom - filled with her growing collection of Manga.
I remember the first time my future in-laws visited my apartment - and my late father-in-law spent quite some time looking at the books on my shelves. He pulled "Moby Dick" out, and commented that he had tried to read it several times, and failed - he smiled when I told him I had done the same.
The not read mountain
Among the myriad books, movies, and miscellany stacked on the bookshelf behind me, there is a slowly growing collection of books that I've been meaning to read for quite some time. Years in some cases. Everything from Neil Gaiman's "Neverwhere", to Neal Stephenson's "Snowcrash", and Robert Heinlein's "Stranger in a Strange Land". Somewhere on the bookshelf, there is a copy of "We", by Yevgeny Zamyatin.
I started reading Neverwhere, and loved it - but then got distracted by a friend telling me "there's this book you would really love called 'Ready Player One'". That kind of thing happens to me a lot. I read "Ready Player One" twice. I started reading "Catch 22" a couple of years ago, and it too now sits somewhere on the bookshelf, half-finished - I'll have to start reading it again because I've forgotten everything about it.
The kindness of others
The unread mountain of books is a compounding problem - each birthday and Christmas brings more books to the collection. This year saw "Ready Player Two", "Dark Matter", and "The Ikabog" join the queue. I need to tell people to stop looking at my Amazon wish list. I need to stop adding things to my Amazon wish list.
I need to start making time to read again. Time to sit down and bury myself in a book. I used to convince myself that the reason I didn't find time any more was that evenings and weekends tended to be a filled with journeys from A to B, attacking vertical cliffs of unwashed clothes, or attempting to conceal seemingly unlimited collections of toys, games, and craft projects littered throughout the house.
Those reasons have not existed for the past year, while we hid away from the virus as it rampaged around the world.
It's not that I've stopped reading entirely - I've lost count of the number of times my other half has discovered me slumped across the bed with a thumb still tucked between the pages of a book at my side. I've also lost count of the number of times I've begun reading a chapter, and realised several pages in that it's strangely familiar.
At the end of the day, I need to make time to read again - if only to catch up with the unread mountain of books before they fall on me. You can almost imagine the newspaper headline - "Desperate rescue attempt launched to rescue man from unread book mountain collapse - Elon Musk offering Thurderbird machinery in support".