Some of you might remember when I posted a link to Kirby Field's fantastic article about file-sharing.[1. I also encourage you to check out his great Popmatters article about his favorite childhood used bookstore.] Well, clear your schedules because Mr. Fields has struck out on his own! He recently launched a site called Reading Remainders, in which he will slowly tackle all the unread books on his shelf.
This is a noble pursuit. Pretty much every reader I know is plagued by stacks and stacks of unread books. For years, I had a personal rule that I could not put a book on a shelf unless I had read it in its entirety. I considered a shelved book no different than the mounted head of a deer -- it was a trophy.
Of course, this all got ruined when I met Mary. All of a sudden there were somebody else's books cluttering up my shelf. The horror![2. One of our first real arguments was about how to organize said books ... during which I was informed that my longtime sorting method ("grouped conversations") is nothing short of insane.] I eventually managed to convince her to at least allow me the "no unread books on the shelf" rule. Those books can be broken up into two basic categories:
1) the one book Mary is about to actually read
2) the many books Jonathan swears he will read so can he pretty-please buy them all?
These books are strategically-placed above Mary's desk, where they can inspire maximum guilt. My old pal Kirby, however, has elected to display his shame shelf before the whole world. And it's not just a bunch of classics that everybody knows of and hasn't read -- he's also reading all the crappy books that have somehow ended up in his possession. Consider this week's piece, which is an extended, thoughtful meditation on an Anthony Robins self-help book from the 80s.
These are less book reviews than platforms for reflection on a lifetime of reading and thinking. (The above Anthony Robins piece, for example, is set against Kirby's first-ever brush with unemployment.) In his NFQs page[4. Which I can only assume stands for "Never Asked Questions"], he refers to the blog as an "online manuscript." Whatever you call it, it's a fun way to spend an afternoon.