Scott McLemee's article on "Bookshelf and Shelf" includes the following wise paragraph:
The online conversation generated by Seligman’s and Klein’s remarks has at times reflected a kind of guilt that no really bookish person would feel. For there are, it seems, people who feel stress about owning volumes they haven’t read. Evidently some of them believe a kind of statute of limitations is in effect. If you don’t expect to read something in, say, the next year, then, it is wrong to own it. And in many cases, their superegos have taken on the qualities of a really stern accountant — coming up with estimates of what percentage of the books on their shelves they have, or haven’t, gotten around to reading. Guilt and anxiety reinforce one another.
When I purchase contemporary fiction, I assume that I will read it during some moment of leisure at an indefinite point in the future. When I purchase Victorian religious fiction (*sigh*), I assume that I will both read and write about it at a more definite point in the future. And when I purchase scholarly work, I assume that I will read at least some of it for a very definite purpose...whenever I need to do so (which, one hopes, will be more than once). Timetables come into it only when the books need to be read for professional reasons. Surely part of the fun of having books around is the knowledge that they're there, waiting for you, whenever you're ready?
I'm very fond of my bookcases, but they aren't performances of identity. They're for storing books.