Read It Now – Tomorrow May Be Too Late

Henry Thoreau on Rainy Day Books

Do You Have Rainy Day Books?

I’m not talking about what you read on days when the heavens open and all you want to do is snuggle up by the fire with a cuppa and a good book.

I’m talking about books that you’re looking forward to reading so much that you reserve them for a future time? A time when you know you’ll want to read something very special.

I have a few books that fit this description. They include:

  • Half a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Le Ventre de Paris (The Belly of Paris) by Emile Zola
  • Gould’s Book of Fish by Richard Flanagan
  • Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison
  • The Hours by Michael Cunningham
  • Becoming by Michelle Obama

This is just a sample of my ‘rainy day books’ from my large collection of unread books. I think there are around 30 in total, some of which have been on my shelves for more than five years.

Some are books by authors whose work I’ve enjoyed hugely in the past (Adichie, Flanagan, Zola). Others like the Ghosh and Cunningham have come highly recommended by other bloggers.

The problem is that the rainy day never actually arrives.

I’m coming to the conclusion that in fact the day will never materialise. That I’ll always find a reason to leave the rainy day book on the shelf and go in search of something else to read.

Which means that instead of reading a book I’m more or less guaranteed to enjoy, I read one that I might enjoy.

How perverse is that???

That quote from Henry Thoreau has given me the impetus to rethink this whole rainy day approach.

What If Rainy Days Never Materialise?

None of us like to contemplate the fact that we have only a finite number of years left on this planet. And thus a finite number of books it’s physically possible to read.

If I keep putting certain books aside to read one day in the future, that day may never come. I could easily go to my grave never having read the very books I most want to read. Meanwhile I could have wasted time on second best novels. A sobering thought.

It’s time to turn my thinking completely on its head.

Instead of squirrelling them away it’s time to bring these books into the daylight. And to read them. Because if not now, when will I ever get around to them? I’d hate to think the answer to that question could be never.

About BookerTalk

What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

Posted on August 19, 2019, in Book Reviews. Bookmark the permalink. 47 Comments.

  1. Oh no – I just lost my longish reply!

  2. Just to let you know that your blog post inspired me to write about my own “rainy day reading.” No time like the present.

  3. Great post! Yes, I have many rainy day books and your post has helped to convince me that I should delve into them sooner rather than later. It is just so hard when you have as many review commitments as I do. (192 as of today)

    • Wow, that is a huge amount to review. Do you think you’ll get through them all? How do the publishers feel about the fact that you don’t review them – is it an issue for them?

  4. This post has made me realise I really must read what’s on my shelf and stop getting distracted by blogger’s recommendations and shiny new things in the bookshop. If you read Gould’s Book of Fish do so when you have no interruptions as it takes a bot of concentration and gets quite wild as you go along. I would love to know what you think of it.

    • That’s good advice. I tend to read mostly at night just before going to sleep or in hospital waiting rooms – neither are conducive to books that require concentration

  5. Yes, I have rainy day books – loosely defined, as they can change a bit. One rainy day book was Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park which I didn’t read until my 40s – I was saving it because once I’d read it I would have read them all and that was going to make me sad. Of course, I had already read the others more than once, but still I was holding out.

    Haha, re the Adichie! The problem with rainy day books eh?

  6. Sheree @ Keeping Up With The Penguins

    You’re definitely not alone! Though I’m not sure my reserved books are “rainy day” reads per se – it’s more like “I know there’s going to be a moment in my life when I need this book, I’ll save it ’til then”. If I’ve heard a book is hilarious, for instance, I might hold off on reading it until I’m feeling a bit “blah” and needing a laugh. Or I’ll save them for a specific time – like reading black authors during Black History Month, or queer writers during Pride, just because I like the sense of occasion. Still, I definitely don’t get to as many of them as I’d like, I need to bite the bullet and just pick them up, even if the moment isn’t “perfect”.

    • I was struggling to find a way to describe these – rainy day wasn’t exactly the right phrase but close enough. I’ve never thought of ‘saving’ books for certain moods because I’m not consciously a mood reader…

      • Sheree @ Keeping Up With The Penguins

        I think I’m just traumatised by the one time I suffered a loss while away from home and my book collection – all I had with me was a stack of really miserable books, full of death and abuse and the worst of human nature. Reading felt like going from the frying pan to the fire! So I need to know I’ve got a “cheer up” read in the chamber, or a tough book for when I feel like I’m ready for a challenge, etc.

        • ‘mood reading’ is something I’ve never thought about Sheree. I suppose my go to genre when I can’t deal with anything too complex or depressing, is an old fashioned crime novel. You know the ones, where you never get the detail of how the murder happened , just the interest in how they did it.

  7. I have a few books by writers I love, which I’ve held on to and not yet read, as I had read everything else by them, and I wanted to leave myself something of theirs to read, which I’ve not yet read. However, I decided earlier this year that this was a silly policy and have begun reading them.

  8. Thoreau is right…. Ulysses and finishing Proust are waiting for me if I could only stop myself getting distracted on the way!

  9. I have quite a few books, mostly audiobooks that I’m keeping for that perfect moment. Of course like you that perfect probably won’t ever arrive and I should get a move on and just listen to them.

  10. I have been thinking exactly the same way. I will be seventy in November and, as a friend remarked when she reached the same landmark a couple of years ago, from that point on every day could be seen as a bonus. I don’t have specific books that I have been saving, but there are writers I haven’t yet ‘sampled’ that I think I might regret and this winter I am determined to do something about that.
    Looking at your list, I would definitely recommend getting round to Half a Yellow Sun, Sea of Poppies and The Hours but I wonder how you will get on with Gould’s Book of Fish. It has divided every group I’ve read it with more than any other book I can think of.

    • I’m some years behind you but the cancer diagnosis a few years ago was the start of a wake up call about how I wanted to spend my time. I never thought about rainy day authors but yes I have a batch of those too. By the way you are responsible for Sea of Poppies being on my list 🙂

    • You must be my twin I didn’t know about. I turn 70 in November too and feel the same about Gould’s Book of Fish!

  11. I honestly was just thinking about this last night (and almost wrote about it, too). I have dozens of books that I’m “saving for the right time.” What’s up with that?! I need to remedy this thinking, too.

  12. I turned around and stared at my shelves. I don’t think I have any books I’m saving for later, though I have plenty I wish I’d already got to. I read Beloved for the first time only last year, and it’s stunning. That’s what bothers me, all the books out there in the ether that I don’t even know I’m missing.

    • That’s a good point – I’m talking about ‘wasting’ time on a so-so book when there are these treasures awaiting – but those are the ones that I know about. What about the ones that are yet to be discovered….

  13. There are many books on my shelf that I haven’t gotten to yet–some recently added to the queue, and others because I assume I will get to them someday. You are hardly alone.

  14. I’m a major procrastinator in almost everything except reading books I anticipate loving. There are lots of books on my list that I’d love to read, but the ones I most want to read get read pretty soon. And with those that are waiting, it’s purely down to lack of time rather than by design. And it’s partly for the reason you’re suggesting – I’d hate my dying thought to be “I wish I’d read…” Plus I always expect more great books to come along in the future. Enjoy your non-rainy rainy day!

  15. LOL if death sneaks up on me in the next few years, I don’t think I’ll be worrying about which ones I haven’t read, but more about finding a loving home for all my books, read or not:)

    • You could always put clear instructions in your will 🙂

      • Ever been an Executor? I have twice, for my sins. It must be *sigh* because I am such a trustworthy person…
        One lady’s Will required that two books, which were falling apart by the time she died, were to be donated to an organisation which no longer existed. To do the right thing, I had to spend ages trying to find out (a) whether the books were of sufficient value (not necessarily monetary) for me to spend hours of my time on it rather than chuck them in a bin where any normal person would have put them considering the state they were in, and (b) if the organisation had morphed into something else, and still existed under a different name. From this I have learned to be very careful on what I might inflict on my Executor!

  16. I do sometimes save books, I probably have too many to list. You are so right, read those books now don’t wait. Half of a Yellow Sun is fantastic, I really loved The Hours too.

  17. Oh I feel like I could’ve written this post after Persuasion….. *holds head in hands and laments my stupidity*
    Also read Adichie now. Don’t wait. Half of a Yellow Sun is her finest book imo.

    • I went looking for the Adichie last night, emboldened by my new resolution. Only to remember I had ‘loaned’ it to my niece – chances of getting it back are nil so will have to buy another copy…

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