Just got around to reading the Guardian article about books being the new form of snobbery. I feel like someone who's just discovered that every teenage boy in the neighbourhood has been secretly lusting after his wife. I mean on the one hand, it's comforting to know that civilisation has finally evolved to the point where the art of reading is sufficienty prized for it to be a status symbol (plus it's good to know that other people also spend their time checking out what people around them are reading - see my post here). On the other hand, these are books dammit, they are sacred, hallowed objects and should not be sullied by the fingers of cretins who just want to use them to show off.
(On a seperate note, I'm not sure how exactly being seen with an established bestseller is status-enhancing. Personally, whenever I see someone reading the latest booker prize winner or some other book that's been majorly lauded in the press, I assume they're just wanna-bes who aren't well read enough to have opinions of their own. It's the folks reading obscure Henry James novels - or poetry - who I tend to notice with approval. I realise this leaves me open to the risk of false negatives, but that's a risk I can live with.)
I have to admit to feeling a twinge of guilt about this, though. Not, of course, that I would ever buy a book that I didn't intend to read - at least at the time that I bought it. The trouble is that the rate at which I buy books far exceeds the rate at which I actually read them, so that unread books tend to accumulate on my bookshelves, rather like budget deficits. The end result is that there are at least a dozen books on my shelf that I not only have not opened yet, but that I may actually not get around to reading at all, because there's always something more interesting to occupy my attention.
Plus there are all the books that I started to read but didn't finish. This happens mostly with collections of poetry - I'll buy the collected poems of some poet and get about halfway through it, but I invariably won't get all the way through. This isn't just true for poets I'm disappointed in - even with poets I love there are usually at least a few poems that I've never got around to reading. For instance, I'm sure there are at least a few poems in the Collected Plath that I haven't read; ditto with Walcott. Plus there are the books I simply gave up on mid-way - like Finnegan's Wake, for instance. Or short story collections where I still have a handful of stories left.
All this means that I have tons of books on my bookshelf that I couldn't (and wouldn't) honestly claim to have read in their entirety, but that people would assume I had read by virtue of their being on my bookshelf. Of course, the larger guilt here is about not having read them in the first place, but there's also a smidgin' of guilt about displaying books on my bookshelf that I haven't read. Actually, guilt is probably the wrong word - it's more like the uneasiness that comes from knowing that if someone were to see the book on your shelf and ask you what you thought of it you'd have to make the embarassing confession that you hadn't actually read it and feel like a klutz as a result. There was actually a period when I seriously considered keeping unread books in a seperate drawer, hidden away from the public eye.
 Those of you who are fond of things like logic are probably going to point out that this is an illogical point of view. This is true. What makes it even more illogical than you think is that I never, ever, invite people into my apartment anyway, so that the chances of someone actually getting to see my bookshelf are miniscule. But, as people are always saying when they want to justify an illogical stand, it's the principle of the thing.