Sit Still, Look Pretty

written by Keaton Tennant



Every three months or so, I do what I call “climbing Mount Everest,” which is really just cleaning and reorganizing my white bookcase. I call it climbing Mount Everest because I go from the bottom shelf to the top, emptying out the many books that I’ve bought and never read and passing a Clorox wipe over every surface of the painted white wood. I also regather books that I’ve bought and stuffed into the drawers of my desk, piled up underneath my bed, and hidden between coats in my closet. By the end of the first uphill climb and after spreading out all of the books on my bed, I realize, I need to stop buying books.

Seriously, there is an inverse relationship with the space in my bookcase and the amount of money I owe Amazon. I try and redirect the blame every which way and say “But I needed all of those Ina Garten cookbooks,” or say “I was going to read all of those Shakespeare plays for a project over last summer,” or say “I just really love Trevor Noah so I buy every issue of every magazine his name is merely mentioned in,” but I know I’m not the only one guilty for helping accelerate deforestation.

We read because we expect a good story. You want to finish a book and go tell your friends about it even though they probably don’t care. It’s an emotional commitment for the reader even when it’s just reading through the ingredients and steps of a recipe. In each of the books I owned, different feelings were explored through the pages, paragraphs, and every last word. Collecting these books become something of a massive repertoire of emotion, in which different combinations were kept trapped inside like butterflies in nets. Even if I don’t read them, the idea of the assemblage of feeling contained within a copy of Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance or Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s The Nest or even The Taste of Home Baking Book keep me curious and attracted.

A list of the books on my shelf that I haven’t read include:

  • Healing the Angry Brain (this was given to me by a friend who says I have anger management issues)
  • 101 Cocktails
  • and the most important one, a dream interpreting book called 1001 Dreams which I bought after I had a dream that popular musician Zayn Malik cheated on me

I don’t know when, or if, I’ll just finally say enough is enough, stop buying books, and read the ones I have, but even if I never read them, they still look pretty living on my shelves.