I read twenty books last year. None of them were on my bucket list. I was reminded of that when I went through my bookshelves again recently. I’m currently in the middle of downsizing — going all in on digital books, music and movies.
Even though I’ve made three or four passes through my bookshelves, I continue to hold on to books like “Churchill” by Roy Jenkins, “Jonathan Edwards” by George M. Marsden, “Pride & Prejudice” by Jane Austen, “The Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan, “Knowing God” by J.I. Packer, “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis and so many others, even though I have never read them.
No, I haven’t read any of those books.
Go ahead and judge me if you want to. But my guess is, your bookshelf contains a few books you plan to read, but might not ever get around to, as well. Have you ever wondered why?
I’ve been asking myself that lately.
Did I buy these books books because somebody told me I should read them? Have my interests changed? Are the writing styles not my cup of tea? Am I perceiving that the books I’m choosing to read instead meet my needs better, or in ways that make more sense to me? Am I reading for different reasons now than when I bought these bucket list books?
The answer, to varying degrees, to all of those questions is yes, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Maybe the real question I need to answer is, why do I have a static bucket list of books floating around in my head to begin with? Why not just read the books I’m interested in reading, when I want to read them, without feeling like I am supposed to read something else?
I’m not saying we shouldn’t read outside of our interests, immediate needs, styles or preferences. Last year, I read three YA books and enjoyed them immensely. I also read a post-apocalyptic trilogy that was thought-provoking. Neither series or genre was even on my reading radar two years ago.
What I am saying is, we select the next book we are going to read for quite personal reasons. We need specific information, or we are looking for a reading experience that will make us feel something, and for one reason or another, we choose books other than the ones on our bucket lists — at least I do.
I’m interested in hearing your thoughts. Do you have a reading bucket list? Is your list static or ever-changing? Do you ever read anything on it? Why or why not? What prompted you to pick up the book you are reading right now?
Lee Warren is a freelance writer and editor who has written twelve non-fiction books, one novella and hundreds of articles for various newspapers and magazines as well as edited more than 50 books that currently appear in print. He's a fan of NASCAR, baseball, tennis, books, movies and coffee shops.