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I have so many books on my shelves that remain unread; books that are wannabe high-brow, pulp psychology affairs bought (or gifted) with the best of intentions. These books are designed to make me smarter or have a better understanding of myself and the world around me but I can't help think acquiring them has been more about the optics of seeming rather than being smarter.

Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.

People like that do things like this.

I don't know if it's my mental state but I can't bring myself to take them down off the shelf and actually read them. I can't concentrate long enough and am always saying next week, next month, which becomes next year, never.

There are a number of novels, mainly sci-fi, that should be easier to digest, less demanding, but are still untouched and unread. The only books I've finished in the past year are some kids Warhammer story books. I know that I could just read a couple of pages at a time, keep the mental exertion to a minimum. I tell myself this yet things don't change. A deep apathy has sunk in, become bone deep, and that's hard to shake.

It's so much easier to sit I front of the TV. It's so much easier to play a game that requires no real concentration to achieve the basics. It's simpler to much about on drum machines under the guise of working on tracks but then not doing anything with the results of the lost hours.

I hate starting things and not finishing so use this as an excuse not to start, despite doing it all the time. I hate limiting myself to one thing saying I should diversify, despite spending an entire evening doing the same thing and having nothing to show for it.

A lot of it comes down to what I think I should be or do rather than what I want. Not necessarily to match external expectations and pressures but those inside — a feeling of not having met my potential, of always getting through on the bare minimum when I should have done more.

To some, it might seem that I'm lazy or work shy, it's just that I've never found had a job that gives me a sense of satisfaction or purpose. Work is something I do not who I am.

But I don't really know who or what I am. Only what I think I should be.

Then there is an abject fear of failure, the embarrassment of being 'found out' as a fraud, and a lack of confidence in my abilities. The constant need for approval is testament to this no matter what it is I'm doing. In that regard I suppose I'm the ideal person to use social networks — which is why I had to leave and delete my accounts. It's why I had to give up drinking when I was 17. It why so much goes unexplored because I fear the dependency I will develop on the feedback, on the need for praise. I'm an addict without a substance, always seeking something to fill a void within me.

Chris Lovie-Tyler says: Reply to Chris Lovie-Tyler

On books, I (and, I'm sure, so many other people) can relate. "My eyes are bigger than my stomach" comes to mind.

I haven't bought many recently, but when I was in the habit, I did often buy them and not read them, or partly read them, and then feel guilty about it.

I also have been in the habit of getting too many books out of the library at one time. Now, I try to get just one or two and actually read them.

This might be an extreme suggestion, but with the pile of books on your shelf, it might be time for a clean out. If you don't think you'll ever read them, get rid of them, and then they won't make you feel bad every time you look at them.

I take this approach from time to time with things like my task-manager app on my phone. It helps lighten the mental load.

Colin Walker replied:

I was thinking about that, it's good advice. Thanks. It's a symptom of a much wider issue but you can only take small steps and one at a time.

Alan Ralph says: Reply to Alan Ralph

I've sold or given away most of my books over the past two years, the majority of them never read. Having to haul them all out of my room while we had workmen in fitting new triple-glaze windows two years ago, I realised just how much stuff I was holding onto, and how much they weighed in total! WeBuyBooks was fairly quick & easy, though they don't pay much. I was able to sell some more valuable & rare books on eBay, and anything that WeBuyBooks didn't want and wasn't of great value got donated to the local Oxfam shop in the town centre.

I've kept some books that are signed to me, plus some references. Wherever possible now, I'm buying ebooks rather than physical ones. (Of course, now I need to tackle my ebook library...)

I don't read books nearly as often as I could — I think part of that is due to my vision changing and my getting eye-strain from reading at close range. I've tried out the Kindle app on my phone, and that does help by forcing me to slow down, so perhaps I'll see if I can get into the habit of reading a few pages in the morning and evening.

(On a related note, I closed and deleted my Steam and GOG game accounts at start of 2023. The majority of titles were no longer playable on my current Mac setup, so that wasn't a huge loss to me.)

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