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"Have you read all these books?"
February 6, 2006 1:10 PM   Subscribe

Have you read all these books? Hell, no. Yes, and many more. The answer is yes. No, these are the ones I have to read by the end of the month. Nay, I have written them. No, only four of them. No, and I never intend to live in a house where I can't find a book I haven't read. Not one-tenth of them. No, but I know why I bought each one. Probably not.
posted by mistersix (42 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
?
posted by zeoslap at 1:14 PM on February 6, 2006


Books, right? It has something to do with books.
posted by fandango_matt at 1:18 PM on February 6, 2006


something about writers who have or have not read all the books in their library?
posted by shmegegge at 1:19 PM on February 6, 2006


Is this a mini Project Guttenburg?
posted by The Jesse Helms at 1:20 PM on February 6, 2006


It's about different responses to the question "Have you read all these books."

The post is about how different people answer the question asked about their large libraries.

That's what I understand this post to be about.

It's the "why" question that I am struggling with.
posted by dios at 1:22 PM on February 6, 2006


Yeah, if you google the phrase, a bunch of these come back as hits.
posted by JeremyT at 1:22 PM on February 6, 2006


No, and I never intend to live in a house where I can't find a book I haven't read.
posted by poppo at 1:23 PM on February 6, 2006



posted by fandango_matt at 1:25 PM on February 6, 2006


I NEVER LEARNED TO READ!!!!!!!!!
*cries*
posted by ozomatli at 1:28 PM on February 6, 2006


That is totally my (everyone's?) favorite episode.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 1:32 PM on February 6, 2006


fandango_matt wins, SSI metatalk H.
posted by bardic at 1:32 PM on February 6, 2006


I like this post.
posted by sklero at 1:42 PM on February 6, 2006


As do I.
posted by brundlefly at 1:47 PM on February 6, 2006


Fandango, that's the first TV show/movie that made me cry. Also, I approve of this post, even though I shouldn't.
posted by dame at 1:50 PM on February 6, 2006


In the past I adopted a tone of contemptuous sarcasm. "I haven't read any of them; otherwise, why would I keep them here?"....Now I have fallen back on the riposte: "No, these are the ones I have to read by the end of the month. I keep the others in my office," a reply that on the one hand suggests a sublime ergonomic strategy and on the other leads the visitor to hasten the moment of his departure.

Wow. Umberto Eco is kind of a cranky old dick. Heh.
posted by Gator at 1:57 PM on February 6, 2006


Awesome! This and the AskMe thread about organizing your library come at a great time. I'm still moving into my new house and wondering if I'm the only one out there dealing with such a mass of books I can't part with even though I know them by heart, and books I've still not opened But Will Get To Some Day. This makes me feel better!
posted by freebird at 2:19 PM on February 6, 2006


I vote no.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:36 PM on February 6, 2006


I'm still moving into my new house and wondering if I'm the only one out there dealing with such a mass of books I can't part with even though I know them by heart, and books I've still not opened But Will Get To Some Day.

I must admit to storing a few large boxes of books in a storage unit, but I've gotten much better in recent years. Once you get old enough (unless you have massive real estate), you're going to run out of room. And then what? I give a lot of books away these days.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:38 PM on February 6, 2006


I just want to note that most of the books shown behind the main character in fandango matt's post are law books (the spines are distinctive), so it's just as well he never got to read them anyway.
posted by onlyconnect at 2:41 PM on February 6, 2006


Does anyone else think the Twilight Zone guy looks like Ezra Pound?
posted by hototogisu at 2:43 PM on February 6, 2006


I was going to complain that Walter Benjamin's classic essay on the topic, Unpacking My Library, wasn't included, but it appears that it can't be found on the internet. All-powerful Google my fanny.

Here's at least an excerpt.
posted by Simon! at 3:00 PM on February 6, 2006


Been there, failed to do that.
posted by Cranberry at 3:04 PM on February 6, 2006


A post on Crooked Timber about race-based casting in films and TV led me to the story behind Ellison's story which led me to the phrase "Have you read all these books" in Ellison's story. Which gave me pause. The response Ellison's character gives is the same one he claims he gives.
onlyconnect, I don't think they're all law books; a lot of "classic" books used to have spines like those in the picture.
posted by mistersix at 3:05 PM on February 6, 2006


Does anyone else think the Twilight Zone guy looks like Ezra Pound?

Or The Penguin from the Batman TV series. Or Rocky's coach. (The one fool to whom Mr. T showed no pity.)
posted by Optamystic at 3:09 PM on February 6, 2006


i like it too. having an apartment filled with stacks of books - skewed toward the unread variety - i've always loved that Eco quote and have always wanted to use it, though i think you'd actually have to be Umberto Eco to pull it off. heh.
posted by ab3 at 3:17 PM on February 6, 2006


mistersix, many of the books have volume number, which would be unlikely to appear on a classic book.
posted by onlyconnect at 4:08 PM on February 6, 2006


This is a wonderful post, but I can't believe you missed Benjamin's "Unpacking my Library", where he deals with this very question! But regardless: thanks for the treat. I like Derrida's answer best.
posted by ori at 4:25 PM on February 6, 2006


Well, I can still read the large print books.
posted by Eideteker at 4:47 PM on February 6, 2006


I have two separate book collections, the read and unread. They dont mix at all, in fact are in separate rooms. I've started reading Project Gutenburg books on a Sony Librie. No books or shelves.
posted by stbalbach at 5:07 PM on February 6, 2006


Well, I can still read the large print books.

Failing that, there's always Braille...
posted by Gator at 5:12 PM on February 6, 2006


Of my seven bookcases, there is only one that is devoted entirely to the books that I shall never read. It is a phantasmagorical place in which my hand slips into the ether and randomly picks one. Depending upon whether I feel like stretching or hunkering on the floor, I might pick any number of fascinating books.

The other six house a combination of the books I have read, complete with some books that I haven't. Tomes that I might shift into place should the inevitable space on the unread bookcase free up.

So yeah this is a fantastic thread whicih beckons how other readers here deal with the mysteries of the unread, which are not unlike an explorer venturing into the unknown.
posted by ed at 5:17 PM on February 6, 2006


Great post. The next time I hear "Have you read all these books?" I think I might point that I also keep uneaten food in my pantry.

hototogisu, I've always thought that the young Ezra Pound looked a bit like Gary Oldman:

young E.P.
posted by cobra libre at 5:37 PM on February 6, 2006


And speaking of Walter Benjamin, and speaking as a "bookrat," the non-uniqueness of my books hasn't done much to diminish their auras. (Though maybe I ought to read the pertinent essay again before talking about it.)
posted by cobra libre at 5:39 PM on February 6, 2006


cobra libre: your food analogy only works if, like me, you have ancient packets of ramen lurking in your pantry, you know, just 'cause.

I can definitely see the Gary Oldman thing...
posted by hototogisu at 5:49 PM on February 6, 2006


Great post.
posted by jayder at 6:05 PM on February 6, 2006


All of which books? The ones in my kids' bookshelves, or the ones in my bookshelves, or the ones in the library upstairs, or the ones in the sewing room, or the ones in the bookshelf in the basement, or the ones (astronomy, cycling, php/sql/.net) piled on the floor next to Mr R's side of the bed? (In order: some, mostly, mostly, some, I'm working on it, and 'are you kidding?')
posted by jlkr at 6:26 PM on February 6, 2006


onlyconnect : "mistersix, many of the books have volume number, which would be unlikely to appear on a classic book."

Maybe he was sorting them, and behind him is the "shitty law books I don't plan to read" pile.
posted by graventy at 7:14 PM on February 6, 2006


many of the books have volume number, which would be unlikely to appear on a classic book

Really?
posted by mediareport at 8:08 PM on February 6, 2006


50-volume Harvard Classics (plus 20-volume "Shelf of Fiction").
posted by stbalbach at 8:24 PM on February 6, 2006


poppo: No, and I never intend to live in a house where I can't find a book I haven't read.

well said
posted by farishta at 8:49 PM on February 6, 2006


Excellent; and no.
posted by OmieWise at 6:14 AM on February 7, 2006


I love when people ask me that.
I find it funny when I visit people, and after a while notice that they have no books whatsoever. HDTVs, sure, but no books.

my father built a library (barn with shelves) in the backyard to accomodate his collection.
posted by Busithoth at 8:32 AM on February 7, 2006


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