Sunday, December 8, 2013


At the end of the year, I un-read.

In the last few months, I've un-read a hundred or so books.

None of those books will appear on my 2013 Books Read list. I didn't read them. I un-read them.

What is un-reading?

I've requested lots of books from the library on Best-of-2013 lists that pop up at this time of year like mushrooms after a rain. I've pulled stacks of books that I've accumulated-but-not-cracked over the course of the year.

And then I started un-reading. I read the first page, sometimes the first chapter or two. Then I ask myself, Do I want to read on? If I am curious about what happens, I sometimes skim the next fifteen or twenty chapters and read the last two. If I'm not drawn in, I shut the book and return it to the library or put it in the stack to give away or trade. In rare cases (just twice, really) I am completely drawn in and read the book to completion. Occasionally, I find a book that I decide to set aside for another day; I can tell I might love it, but I'm just not in the right mood right now for it.

What have I un-read? Countdown. The Book of Someday. No One Could Have Guessed the Weather. Havisham. The Circle. The Panopticon. The Fat Years. Dallas 1963. White Princess. Goat Mountain. Rivers. Insurgent. Care of Wooden Floors. The Unwinding....

...and, as they say, many, many more.

Do you un-read? I encourage you to do so. It's a cleansing feeling, like dusting properly or cleaning out one's closet.

What is the Sunday Salon?  Imagine some university library's vast reading room. It's filled with people--students and faculty and strangers who've wandered in. They're seated at great oaken desks, books piled all around them,and they're all feverishly reading and jotting notes in their leather-bound journals as they go. Later they'll mill around the open dictionaries and compare their thoughts on the afternoon's literary intake....

That's what happens at the Sunday Salon, except it's all virtual. Every Sunday the bloggers participating in that week's Salon get together--at their separate desks, in their own particular time zones--and read. And blog about their reading. And comment on one another's blogs. Think of it as an informal, weekly, mini read-a-thon, an excuse to put aside one's earthly responsibilities
 and fall into a good book.  Click here to join the Salon.


  1. Books unread - there are some books I can get the gist of by looking at the beginning, the middle, and the end as you suggest, and these I don't need to read the whole way through. Good book though require all your effort. Great suggestions..

    Book Dilettante

  2. Yes, I wish there was some way to instantly know a book won't work for you. Hope computer people are creating something like this right now.

  3. I have started to read and then stopped, I guess that is un-reading, right?

    I liked THE BOOK OF SOMEDAY. Sorry you un-read it. :)

    Have a good Sunday.

    Silver's Reviews
    My Blog

  4. I really like the concept of unreading! Instead of keeping piles of books that you thought were going to hit a chord with you, but you keep putting off reading, unreading would give you the freedom of not feeling guilty about not reading them. One book I had in one of those piles that I finally did give a chance turned out to be one of my favorite reads this year- The Last First Day.

    Thanks Deb for a great post!

  5. I don't know about un-read...exactly. I do pick up books at the library and then never get to them, because I realize I have better books waiting for me on my own shelves, either real or virtual. This past week, the book was The Fault In Our Stars, which like you I didn't expect to like as much as I did. In fact, it's probably the best book I've read this year.

  6. Great idea! I generally start books and then abandon at about page 50 or so if I can't get into them.

    I do take out many books from the library that I don't read because of time limits. I like doing that though because I can check out a book before I buy it.

  7. Great idea. With all the books I have that need to be read, there is a sense of relief sometimes to make the conscious decision to not read something rather than to keep putting it off. Library books get unread sometimes when I have to return them before I get around to them. But the books I've bought, I generally fool myself that I will get to them one of these days.

  8. Sounds like a plan. I have often read the first 50 pages and discarded the book (or returned it to the library). Haven't gone to the end, though. I wonder if that would pique my curiosity?

    Enjoy un-reading.


  9. I do unread! I just didn't think to call it that. I've been putting books on hold from various best of lists too. Unfortunately I haven't even started unread any of them yet.

  10. The nice thing about un-reading, Elizabeth, is that I can always take another look at books that people recommend after I've passed on them. Like Book of Someday.

  11. I used to do something similar when I was a book editor at a small paper and got boxes of free books to review. I am much more careful about what I take in.

  12. I don't really un-read, but there are books I start and just don't think I'm in the mood for, but I know I will enjoy them later. So, I set those aside.

  13. I almost always have more books checked out of the library than I can possibly read. When I can't renew them anymore, I look through them to see if I want to re-request them or give up -- most of the time I give up because there are still more books to look at.

  14. I need to do A LOT of unreading.

  15. I wish I was strong enough to unread. I still kid myself that I can get to everything I want to read, sometime. I'm really curious about which two books you did read instead of unreading?

  16. One was a fluff book called Someday, Someday, Maybe. I liked the humor. It surprised me. Maybe I was just in the mood for something fluffy.

    The other was actually an un-read re-read of a book called Poser. I read it last year and then saw a copy of it, intending to give it to a friend in my yoga class. Instead, I started browsing through it and ended up reading it to the end. Very weird. An un-read re-read.


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