Unread Books as Gifts to Authors

«Time is too short for soft porn.»

Looking at my Amazon expenses (did request my data and went through the csv files with R), books were up on top with electronics and clothes (I hate shopping in stores, which includes shopping for clothes). I also noticed the amount of books that I buy and don’t read. It’s a … good portion of them (aehm). After all, if I start to read a book and it does not catch my interest within the first few pages, I drop it and look for one that better suits my needs. Well, unless it’s a book that deserves the effort (like “Lord of the Rings”, with a gruesome journey through the first book, but really loved the second and third, took three tries but was well worth it). If you drop every book when it gets a bit hard, you might miss out on hard fun. Some books deserve the effort.

But for a long time I had a bad conscience regarding dropping books … and even more so considering the expenses for these books, but recently … I think a better way to think of these expenses as a gift — or donation — or feedback in general — to the author.

In many cases of recent non-fiction books, I have seen the author on YouTube or listened to this person doing the usual book tours. Or being featured in other podcasts (e.g., https://www.artofmanliness.com/podcast/ ). And yeah, some bias here, but I rarely if ever buy books by people I completely disagree with (e.g., peddlers of (neo-)racism, I like viewpoint diversity, but I also like my brain cells). Even when I disagree (on a normal level) with authors, I still think they serve a useful function when it comes to viewpoint diversity.

When it comes to fiction books, it’s much rarer that I do not read a book I bought, but even in those cases the same principle holds. The story idea was at least good enough to attract enough attention to be bought. And in any case — having an idea for a book is easy, actually writing it is not. So that’s something to celebrate. So yeah, well done, author.

So, yeah, maybe I’m rationalizing a habit here (I don’t have a problem … nope, nope …), but yeah. Not reading a book I bought does not stress me out as much. Instead, I see it as a thanks to the author and go to books that are — currently — a better fit.