I always feel a little guilty when I return a book to the library unread. I used to never do that, making sure that I only checked out things that I was sure I would read within the allotted time. More recently, however, I have been doing it more often. I sometimes check out more than I can actually read in the six weeks I’m allowed to keep the books (my library only allows one renewal). Other times, I think I am interested in a book but I realize that I just don’t feel like reading it right now. I think part of my guilt may stem from feeling that if I kept other people from accessing the book for a few weeks, the least I could do is actually read it – keeping it for that time and then not even reading it feels unfair to others. I was essentially reserving it for myself just in case I got around to reading it. Of course, when I checked it out I really did think I would read it, and I usually return books as soon as I realize I’m not going to read them. So I probably shouldn’t feel so guilty. Not forcing myself to read everything I check out allows me a little more freedom and experimentation in what I do check out.
The reason I am thinking about this, as you probably guessed, is that I am about to return a book unread. The book is Taking on the Big Boys, Or Why Feminism is Good for Families, Business, and the Nation, by Ellen Bravo. I haven’t lost interest in the book and I’d still like to read it someday, but I don’t feel a need to read it right now, and in fact I am not sure I could handle it right now. I think this particular batch of books I got from the library had too many heavy non-fiction books in it – from the same batch (therefore, in the last five weeks) I have already read A Short History of Progress, by Ronald Wright, and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, by Barbara Kingsolver with Steven L. Hopp and Camille Kingsolver. The former was heavy reading on how our civilization is driving itself off a cliff and the latter was entertaining but also heavy reading on how wasteful, environmentally damaging, and unhealthy our current food production system is. So I don’t really need yet more heavy reading right now on how the entire structure of business in our country is harmful to women, men, and families.
Ironically, I do intend to get another non-fiction book from the library when I go today or tomorrow, the one I put on hold through interlibrary loan the other day: The Promise of Mediation: The Transformative Approach to Conflict, by Robert A. Baruch Bush and Joseph P. Folger. I expect this to be a somewhat different type of non-fiction, and not quite so heavy. However, it is the only non-fiction I intend to get and I will probably read one or two fiction books before reading it, to make sure I am refreshed for it.