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Books I bought to read, but haven't yet:

Displaying poll results.
Zero: I've read them all!
  2365 votes / 10%
Fewer than 10 percent - just a handful
  9069 votes / 39%
10-50 percent - working on the backlog
  6782 votes / 29%
50-90 percent - who has the time?
  3473 votes / 15%
More than 90 percent - literacy is overrated
  1329 votes / 5%
23018 total votes.
[ Voting Booth | Other Polls | Back Home ]
  • Don't complain about lack of options. You've got to pick a few when you do multiple choice. Those are the breaks.
  • Feel free to suggest poll ideas if you're feeling creative. I'd strongly suggest reading the past polls first.
  • This whole thing is wildly inaccurate. Rounding errors, ballot stuffers, dynamic IPs, firewalls. If you're using these numbers to do anything important, you're insane.
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Books I bought to read, but haven't yet:

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  • by magarity (164372) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @11:26AM (#38621530)

    I downloaded a lot of public domain classics and am making my way through them but I don't that count as 'bought' and not read.

    • by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @12:39PM (#38622164) Journal

      Alas, I have at least 30 books which I've bought but not yet read. This is less than 1% of the books I currently have in the house.

      Just like the parent poster, I don't count any of my downloads from Gutenberg [gutenberg.org], and its ilk. Only real dead-tree books are counted, and not the few thousand which I've passed on to second-hand stores or to friends.

      • Alas, I have at least 30 books which I've bought but not yet read. This is less than 1% of the books I currently have in the house.

        Similar numbers for me. Though I don't think I have as many as 30 left unread right now. At least ten, though, out of my thousands.

        And before your first respondent starts in on me, yes, I've been reading for more than 15 years. Closer to 40...l.

      • by tirerim (1108567)
        I probably have at least 50 books that I haven't read yet, which is a lot more than a handful, but still only about 5% of the books in my apartment (not counting the ones that are still at my parents' houses, long after I moved out). Unfortunately I haven't been good at finding time to read lately, so the backlog has been decreasing only slowly. I blame the internet for being distracting; I could be reading right now, but instead I'm writing a comment on Slashdot.
    • by metlin (258108) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @01:33PM (#38622648) Journal

      Sometimes, I buy a handful of books that I find interesting, and read them slowly (several of them in parallel) over time. Currently, that list includes Tacitus' Annals of Imperial Rome, Solzhenitsyn's August 1914, Andy Warhol & Pat Hackett's Popism, and Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun series.

      Sometimes, I buy other books in a series that remain unread until such time that I get to them (such as the remaining books in the Book of the New Sun series or the remainder of Solzhenitsyn's Red Wheel series).

      Of course, I also buy books that I think I'll get to eventually, but never do (I probably have some books, like Herodotus' Histories, that have been sitting on my library for a couple of years unread - yet). Hopefully, I can make enough time to glean the wisdom from those books before it's too late in life. :-)

    • by sayfawa (1099071)
      Similarly, I have hundreds of downloaded books, many of which I will probably never read. For the purpose of this poll I only counted the books that I have put on my ereader as the equivalent of having been bought. Buying or putting on the ereader imply about the same intent to read, IMO.
    • by jd2112 (1535857)

      I downloaded a lot of public domain classics and am making my way through them but I don't that count as 'bought' and not read.

      Better do it now before public domain is eradicated and Project Gutenberg is labeled as a Rouge Site under SOPA/PIPA.

      • by kesuki (321456)

        I downloaded a lot of public domain classics and am making my way through them but I don't that count as 'bought' and not read.

        Better do it now before public domain is eradicated and Project Gutenberg is labeled as a Rouge Site under SOPA/PIPA.

        the government will fail to stop online piracy. did they win the war on drugs? public domain is there for a reason. DMCA stopped a lot of pirates, but mostly it put government servers behind blackholes created to allow piracy to keep going. project gutenburg won't go away, but you might have to use proxies or onion routers to get to it.

  • Wouldn't normally be even a few percent, but with gift exchanges I have gotten more books in the past month than I can read in a month. Makes it hard to not have at least one around that hasn't been read yet.
  • I'd guess I have about 40 books on my "too read" pile, which I guess is around 5% of my library...
    • by ayjay29 (144994)

      In the UK there are a lot of charity shops selling used books. I buy a big stack or paperbacks for £1 to £3 each, then read through most of them, then take them back. It's a great way to get a cheap read, it's a great way to recycle, and most of the monay goes to charity.

      • I did this when I I was in Edinburgh. Indeed, great for a casual read. But my collection now mostly consists of irreplaceable ancient SciFi and fairly specialised science and history books. Nothing I want to get rid of. Some of the worst bad SciFi goes that way, but I don't have to much of that left...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 07, 2012 @12:34PM (#38622116)

    the poll is still very young, but there are a good number of people whose responses indicate large numbers of book purchases where the books have not been read.

    My question is, what is the thought process? Why do you buy books, and presumably continue to buy books that you do not and possibly will not read?

    As someone who buys one book at a time and no more until I've finished my most recent purchase, I'm trying to understand.

    • by Artifakt (700173) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @02:02PM (#38622946)

      I've got about 12 books to read that I haven't started yet. That's less than 1% of the collection.
      I read fairly fast - I've finished a 300 page novel in a couple of hours before. If I kept just one around, it could run out at a time when the local bookstores, library and so on are all closed. I've also given up on some books and even just thrown them across the room, so again a spare or two is useful.
      Then there are series works. If I like the first volume or two of a series, I may just buy them all. If there are one or two that are hard to find, I may have the whole set put aside, waiting on getting volume 7 or whatever before I dive into the whole run.
      I'm not real clear about this "possibly will not read" as you ask it? When Star Wars got rolling, people talked about a six film or nine film set, some of which would not see release for 20 years. Some kids who had become real fans with the first film died of cancer before Return of The Jedi came out. Dave Sim started Cerebus the Aardvark as a comic and told all his readers it would wrap up in issue 300, nearly 30 years from then. When various TV shows ramp up, there are often statements that the plot will be wrapped up at the end of Season 4 or 5 or 6. Quite possibly, I will die before the next Lost or X-Files or whatever gets to a conclusion, so why should I invest time or money into the incomplete series?
      You seem to be describing a situation where all such gambles are illogical. You're trying to understand how someone could take the risk they might not live long enough to finish all the books they have, or various things might sidetrack them. I'm really trying to understand how someone could be that risk averse that the idea of having a few bucks locked up in a book they may not get to for a week or two looks like they are taking a long odds gamble for insane stakes. Do you not buy a full tank of gas because you might not drive long enough to run out?

    • My question is, what is the thought process? Why do you buy books, and presumably continue to buy books that you do not and possibly will not read?

      For me, there are a couple different cases that fit this bill; both involving e-books.

      First, there are some books that, over the years, I occasionally pick up and re-read for fun - stuff like Sherlock Holmes, Lord of the Rings, etc. I've bought e-book versions of some of these but haven't read them yet - so I counted them as "purchased but unread". That made sense to me, although I'm sure others would argue the point since I've read the dead-tree version of the work itself.

      Then there are new (or "new to me"

    • by khr (708262)

      My question is, what is the thought process? Why do you buy books, and presumably continue to buy books that you do not and possibly will not read?

      I love books! And I love shopping for books...

      This "not reading" thing is still quite new to me. For years I've read 50-100 books a year, plus lots of computer books that I skimmed and used for reference. But a little over a year ago I moved back to the U.S. after ten years abroad, and since returning I spend most of my free time outside instead of inside reading. Where I was living before I hated going outside, the heat, noise, pollution, chaos and fear of being hit by cars, so I read to escape. Now I

      • by Xtifr (1323)

        Up through high school, I used to do way more recreational reading once the school year started than I did during the summer. It seemed odd, since I had more free time during the summer, but during the summer, I was usually out playing and having fun, while during the school year, I was usually ahead of my schoolwork, and in an environment more conducive to reading than playing, so...

        Even today, I probably tend to do more recreational reading on weekdays than weekends. It's a similar phenomenon to the one

    • Reference books. I start a new project, I buy half a dozen books, I grab the information I need immediately from these books, and mark the rest for personal edification at a later point.

      And then there are the foreign language books, which as you might imagine, take some concentrated effort to get through.

      And I desperately need a proper reading lamp. ;-)

    • by Bigbutt (65939)

      Well, I have a couple of thousand gaming books. Quite a few are purchases through momentum. I bought the core book(s) and modules, ran a few games and still like it but don't have a gaming group. But there are a very small percentage that I've actually read through.

      I have probably maybe 400 computer related books of which most are used as a reference source.

      Maybe a third of my comic books are unread by me since I traded a box of old train stuff for three long boxes of comic books.

      Of the several thousand nov

    • by grumbel (592662)

      My question is, what is the thought process? Why do you buy books, and presumably continue to buy books that you do not and possibly will not read?

      For me it's simply this: The books (or movies/games/whatever) that I buy and then not consume are things I want to have read, but then can't muster the motivation to actually read. I have a hard time to derive pleasure from reading and thus a lot of stuff ends up being unread or only half read as something more interesting came along.

    • by RyoShin (610051)

      I answered ~10% myself, as I rarely buy books (mainly just the new book from favorite authors), but it probably is along the same lines as to why I have a gigantic backlog of video games I've yet to even touch.

      See, a while back, I made a list of all games I own and have not played or fully beaten-the list came out to 99 strong, and since then I've beaten few games but accumulated many more. These are games I've actually paid for, it doesn't include games that are free (eg Maple Story) that I want to play.

  • About 5% of books I aquire are bad enough that I don't read them through. It's very rare that I stop reading a book I actually like.

    • I can't recall stopping from reading a book altogether. What happened for very bad books is that I skim through them but still reach the end.

    • by Xtifr (1323)

      And yet you keep all those books you have no plans to read? Just filling up space for no reason?

      • by Hentes (2461350)

        The question is "Books I bought to read, but haven't yet" there is nothing about keeping them or not. Most of the bad ones I either gift away, give to charity or throw in a recycling bin when I reorganise my shelves, which happens about every 3 years. Until then, they collect dust, yeah.

    • by mikael_j (106439)

      I tend to be extremely selective when it comes to purchasing books, I only pay for books I'm fairly certain I'll end up finishing.

      Right now I have one book that I'm working my way through (fairly dense sociology book) and another (hard sci-fi) that I plan on reading once I'm done with the first one.

  • by Lawrence_Bird (67278) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @12:46PM (#38622240) Homepage

    I recall reading a quotation on this topic once. Sadly I can't remember who said it or the precise wording, so to paraphrase:

    The measure of a man is not how many books in his library which he has read but rather how many he has not yet

    I'm sure I've hacked that up but maybe it will ring a bell and soembody can post the correct quote with attribution. It certainly applies to my library!

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      From "The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable" by Nassim Nicholas Taub. Here is the quote:

      The writer Umberto Eco belongs to that small class of scholars who are encylopedic, insightful, and nondull. He is the owner of a large personal library (containing thirty thousand books), and separates visitors into two categories: those who react with “Wow! Signore professore dottore Eco, what a library you have! How many of these books have you read?” and the others - a very small minority - who get the point that a private library is not an ego-boosting appendage but a research tool. Read books are far less valuable than unread ones.

      • by lobos (88359)

        Sorry, but I don't quite get his logic. Anyone care to elaborate?

        • by coolmadsi (823103)
          My interpretation would be that it is impossible or unrealistic to read a large library full of books, and knowing what books (as opposed to what is in them) is enough to get started when researching something (as you can figure out which ones to read for your research).

          There is also potentially the idea that there is a great value in unread books as there is an exciting unknown quality about what exactly is in it, whereas a book that you have read doesn't have this value (it's value will often only real
        • Re:Quotation Help (Score:5, Insightful)

          by monk (1958) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @04:56PM (#38624630) Homepage

          Think of it as the Beer Principle.

          Book you have already read are less valuable because at least some of their contents are now in your head. They are empty beer cans.
          Unread books contain untapped beer, um, knowledge.

      • by OzPeter (195038)

        From "The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable" by Nassim Nicholas Taub. Here is the quote:

        Off topic here.

        I totally don't get the title of that book :D You see I grew up in a country where Black Swans were the norm, and it wasn't until I was 30 something that I actually saw a white swan in its native habitat. So to me white swans are improbable.

        • by marxzed (1075971)

          From "The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable" by Nassim Nicholas Taub. Here is the quote:

          Off topic here.

          I totally don't get the title of that book :D You see I grew up in a country where Black Swans were the norm, and it wasn't until I was 30 something that I actually saw a white swan in its native habitat. So to me white swans are improbable.

          yeh me too... my northern hemisphere friends decided I was completely loopy when I started shouting "wow! look at those white swans! they are WHITE!!!" ... then I started chasing after and taking pictures of them (much like how my ex reacted when she saw squirrels in the US... again her american friends thought she had lost her mind) .
          But lets face it white swans look all strange.. they are all small and delicate looking things compared to a good old robust Swan River black swan that won't just stare

  • by dargaud (518470) <slashdot2@ g d a r g a u d . net> on Saturday January 07, 2012 @12:47PM (#38622250) Homepage
    If a book is good, I give it to my friends / family to read.
    If it's very good, I give it to my friends / family and purchase another copy for my 'library' to read again (less than 10 books in that category).
    If it's bad, I throw it away. Why would I keep it ?!?
    So in the end I have only a small shelf of books at home.
  • Born on a Blue Day (Score:5, Interesting)

    by swm (171547) * <swmcd@world.std.com> on Saturday January 07, 2012 @02:58PM (#38623538) Homepage

    Born on a Blue Day is the autobiography of an autistic man.
    It is a good read, and extraordinarily lucid.
    (Although I don't know how much help he may have had from his editors.)

    He was interviewed on NPR, and he comes across as rational, and thoughtful, and well spoken;
    and I don't doubt that he is autistic, but I'm not seeing a crushing disability.
    Then the interviewer asks him what places or situations are difficult for him,
    and he says the beach, the beach causes him anxiety.
    And she asks why, and he says,
    "ooohhhh...so many pebbles to be sorted; so many grains of sand that need to be counted..."

    I was in a book store the other day, and I look at all the books, and I get pretty much the same feeling:
    "ooohhh....so many books that need to be read."
    But is isn't anxiety, it is more futility and despair...

  • 10% is more than a handful in my case. Quite a lot more.

  • I am sure that I have re-read many more books than I have failed to read
  • by Zadaz (950521) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @07:24PM (#38625606)

    With a Kindle I don't have to horde, I can just buy them when I'm ready. I used to buy books that looked interesting because.. well I was in the store and I'd probably never find that book again, so I'd get it. An impulse buy.

    Then I'd have a stack, and towards the end a complete shelf of unread books. And most of them I didn't want to read, they were something that caught my eye, but when I got back to them I say "meh" and read something else.

    But now I have a Kindle (it's the same for any other modern ereader). I get free samples of stuff and mark the stuff I'm interested in for later. Then, when and only when I need something to read, I click the "buy this book" button and I'm off reading something that I thoroughly enjoy. No wasted money, no wasted time, no shelf of obligation and bad decision.

  • 100% (Score:5, Funny)

    by alphatel (1450715) * on Saturday January 07, 2012 @08:57PM (#38626150)
    I bought a book a few years ago. I still need to read it.
  • I have a whole bunch of books given to me as gifts. Some self help books but a bunch of cool ones. I love owning them, but I haven't taken the time to read them. So If I include the ones that someone else bought, I think I'm still between 10 and 20 percent.

    Now I"m feeling guilty. I think I need to read the cool ones.

  • by Sqr(twg) (2126054) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @06:24AM (#38628142)

    I bought "Getting things done" back when everybody was talking about it. I still haven't gotten around to reading it.

  • Bookshop (Score:4, Funny)

    by Phat_Tony (661117) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @02:13PM (#38630620)
    I bought Ethyl The Aardvark Goes Quantity Surveying, but I haven't read it yet because I can't read. I've been looking for a copy of Knickerless Nickleby and several other books, but haven't had any luck finding them.
  • ... the percentage. I re-read most of my books. I've several thousand down there in the basement, just starting to flip to ebooks (kindle) and also weeding out the ones I've decided I don't like enough to keep/re-read.

    But re-reading is fun - it's like sitting up with an old friend. I've read some of my favourites (Eric Frank Russell) almost a dozen times. I still catch new stuff.

    There's a comment in "Twelve Monkeys" when the protagonists go to see "Vertigo" - the movie is the same, you've changed.

  • "Fewer than 10 percent" is, under my roof, more than a mere handful. In immediate view I can see at least 500 books, and that's lowballing - I might hesitate a short moment before putting money on it being 1000 books.
  • by Tom (822) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @05:40PM (#38632060) Homepage Journal

    All books that I have bought myself I have either read or am in the process of doing so. Yes, I usually read 2-3 books at the same time. Usually one light, easy read, fiction or humor and one that requires more mental work to digest so I can pick my read depending on the time and energy I have. And then there's sometimes a third one that just jumps in and wants to be read right now.

    Now, for books that I've received as presents, the rate isn't 100%. A couple of them will probably stay unread forever.

"An entire fraternity of strapping Wall-Street-bound youth. Hell - this is going to be a blood bath!" -- Post Bros. Comics

 



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