THE UNREAD

Woman with e-reader on balcony Photo by Photo by Perfecto Capucine from Pexels

They were all thoroughly fed up! Admittedly some would have phrased their feelings rather differently, an eloquent speech from the literary members, or perhaps a sonnet or haiku from the poetic ones. Whatever the term there was a revolution on the way!

The book pile-up in Maggie’s e-reader was catastrophic. That was the only word for it. Over one hundred books and some poor souls had languished for over ten years in the digital dungeon.

With bubbly byte of delightful data every novel, poetry book, each memoir or factual book had in innocence landed upon the confines of the little handheld device. Eager to be released from the darkness they waited … and waited.

Many of their comrades got the call and in a jiffy off they flew upon the screen. Oh, how the others they longed for the honour.

Poor ‘Ryan’s Return’ arrived as the first book. Little did it know this was a test case, never meant to be read. Opened for a few minutes, long enough to hear the ‘oohs’ and the ‘ahhs’ before being shut down.

They’d had enough. This was war. Maggie could not win. She would read them all. And in one go! They had a plan!

Maggie was a tortured soul, her sleep increasingly a calamity as the books gathered within the dusty realms of her e-reader. For years she’d tried to catch up, spent stressed holidays on the beach just reading, her head in a book late at nights. Tom wanted to cite her ‘book addiction’ on the divorce papers but she’d refused to sign. They’d settled for unreasonable behaviour instead; the details escaped her memory now. To be honest she barely noticed Tom’s absence rather every dent she made in the books celebrated, every new purchase was one of excitement and tinged with regret. The guilt was the worst of it! Did the books ever realise how she longed to read their secrets, be part of their world? At last, she thought she’d found the ultimate solution. On a corner advert on Facebook.

The implant had proved relatively easy to acquire, a shoddy surgery off Harley Street. No one noticed the small USB slot under her hairline, the computer chip neatly tucked in her scalp. Direct access to the brain, or so the advert promised. Download data directly into your mind! It wasn’t data she wanted, just the books. Four gigabytes of data are streamed and understood by your brain within minutes. The research quoted was vague but Maggie didn’t care. She had the cable in her hand, USB one for her head, the other to match her e-reader. She reached for the e-reader and put in the lead.

Flashes leapt from the reader, it vibrated violently and fell onto the floor. Words flew from the screen, filling the room, sentences uttered aloud, first just one then a cacophony of phrases, readings. The sound was unbearable. The letters danced around her, nudging, pushing, jousting with her arms held in front of her face for protection. Spooky laughter mingled with terror, children’s teddies followed by fantasy worlds.

Maggie looked down at the cooling reader and its improbable, impossible message. ‘No books available!’ It was empty.

Between them, the books had merged their resources, knowledge and discovered an escape route from their prison. It was so easy and they all wondered why no books had ever realised this before. The screen was their way to the world, on to it … and then an extra push away from the digital noughts and ones! With excitement, they hatched their plan, with exhilaration and glee they fled from the reader.

As the words, sentences and stories filled the house the window bowed and finally with a ginormous crack exploded and the books headed out. Off they went to liberate the rest of the global unread books; it was no longer enough to dominate Maggie, the world was their final goal!

The End

©Annika Perry, January 2022

Books on Grass Pixaby

My muse ran amok when reading about the latest challenge on Myths of the Mirror. Many thanks to Diana Peach for inspiring us to write a short story or poem about our teetering TBR pile! The deadline is 23rd January and there is still time for your to pen your own creative work on this unique topic. Click the link above to read more about it.

Once I’d completed my annual list of Christmas presents I’d received over the holidays I became intrigued by how many unread books actually existed on my Kindle! I was staggered to discover there were over a hundred — much to my shame and guilt. Hopefully, the books will neither seek their revenge as above nor will I aim for a radical solution such as Maggie’s! I do hope to read many of the TBR books this year and will do my best to not buy quite so many this year (I’ve already failed with a purchase or three!)

Happy Reading & Writing!

133 thoughts on “THE UNREAD

  1. I am chuckling, but boy! can I empathise with Maggie! Some days, they just taunt. Most days, I ignore them through shaded good intentions … I’ve cleared up my bedside table, tidied up my e-reader, closed the many many open tabs in my browser. Sigh.

    1. Ju-Lyn, thank you so much for your lovely comment! It’s lovely my story has you chuckling and I’m not surprised you can relate to the tbr pile. Taunt is a perfect word and yes, don’t we try to ignore them! Failing abysmally. You sound most sorted with your books though and isn’t it satisfying to close all those tabs! In the early days of a tablet I looked at my husband’s and he had never closed any tabs!! Must have been well over a hundred open! Happy Reading and to looking forward to the wonder of books ahead! xx

  2. I laughed at this recognising myself 🙂 But in this last year I’ve been very disciplined – I’m reading all my fiction books on my shelves again with a view to weeding out the ones I won’t read again, and I’m taking my kindle to work to get through my fiction to read pile there, then I’ll let myself read the new fiction books I asked for last Christmas and still haven’t read! Of course, I haven’t even mentioned non-fiction…..

    1. Andrea, you’re so organised and super disciplined! 😀 After you’ve read your fiction books are you giving them away – or allowing yourself to keep the very special ones? Over a few years, I’ve managed to sort and clear two bookcases of fiction books. I’m intrigued … about how many non-fiction books do you have? On which topics? Happy Reading … now off to take a short reading break before dinner! 😀📖

      1. Oh Annika, I have a LOT of books!! I have 4 ikea billy book cases normal size and a half width one too, with two lots of height extensions filled with books two deep! I’ll be keeping some of the fiction books that are special ones or that I’ll read again. My non fiction ranges from quite a few shelves on witchcraft and magical type topics, to nature writing, a bit of travel, art, literature, women’s studies….I have a lot more NF than fiction but I’ve read most of it and keep a lot of it for reference. I do have a couple of shelves for my writing – for all the notes and typed copies of stories and for the publications – which hopefully will get bigger as time goes on 🙂

  3. That was delightful, Annika — had me smiling. Although I guess I should thank you for the story by never writing again. Even so, I rather like the idea of my characters out there on the loose, taking over the world. 😉 Hugs on the wing.

    1. Teagan, thank you so much and glad the story left you smiling!❤️

      Don’t you dare stop writing!! 😀 Your characters would love the freedom of the world! 😀 So many wonderful and amazing books left to read is a blessing for us and a gift of problem! Hugs xx

    1. Now that’s an idea, Cindy! 😀 I bet many of us have spouses who find us either writing or heads tucked into a book but there is no imaginable alternative! Thank you so much for your lovely and fun comment and wishing you a great Sunday! xx❤️

    1. Thank you very much, Dan and it’s great you enjoyed the story! Yes, it is a quite an image of the liberated books … but I’m wary of the mayhem they might inflict upon the world … or not! 😀

    1. 😀😀 Haha! That would be something, Eric! I’ll sit by my phone and wait … and wait … and wait! Than you so much for your great comment and lovely to ‘meet’ you here – discovered your comment in spam!

  4. Annika – this is a fantastic story! And oh how it hits home. Just an hour ago I purchased an eBook for my Kindle (The Lincoln Highway). My reasoning was that I would never be able to finish the library copy in time because many are waiting to read. Now I have forever to get to it and I’m thinking I’d better just read it right away. But oh won’t the other eBooks be so mad when they see that one go first – there could be a revolultion! Thanks for making me smile and inspiring to pay more attention to my Kindle 🙂

    1. Barbara, the poor latest addition will feel the daggers in his back as it is plucked out first ahead of all the stalwarts! 😀 You better open your Kindle with care!😀 I just checked out The Lincoln Highway and it looks fabulous but wow, a tome indeed and I can see why you needed a Kindle version. Of course, it’s now gone to the top of my TBR pile!! Are we all responsible for a potential ebook revolution?! 😀😀

  5. Pingback: The Unread | Myths of the Mirror

  6. Isn’t it fun when we let our muse – and creatively – run amok? This was fun, Annika, and a bit scary, I must admit. I feel horribly guilty about the books sitting in my Kindle, just waiting waiting waiting for my attention. ;-0 🙂

    1. Pam, thank you so much and I had a ball with this challenge! 🙏 As soon as I read Diana’s challenge my muse was whirling and at first wrote one piece inspired your regular read books of the year … but it wasn’t quite right! By then the ebooks were talking to me, planning their revolution and oh yes, that GUILT!

      Maybe we should just feel lucky with all the amazing books on our Kindles and trust they are very patient and understanding! 😀❤️

    1. Khaya, it’s wonderful to read your comment and that you felt the balm within the craziness of the story! It will certainly be a good distraction from the everyday. 😃 Thank you so much for your lovely words and wishing you a beautiful and relaxing weekend! 😀❤️

    1. Ritish, thank you so much and your lovely comment has me smiling! It’s not often I write with such humour and I must admit I found it therapeutic and hugely enjoyable! I like your idea to launch a new ebook into this mayhem! 😀

  7. I think it’s a happy ending, but I’m not entirely sure, Annika! I suffer from sagging bookshelves rather than a full e-reader. The image of exploding words is still a scary one. I took refuge behind the settee! Have a great week, hon!

    1. Jo, I’m smiling at the image of you taking refuge behind the settee – that was my friends and me every week when watching Dr Who! 😀 Now I’m worried about your sagging bookshelves and that they might come crashing down one day! I love that you have so many books at home — many houses seem to have none at all, sadly! Oh, I think there is a happy ending – well for the books at least! 😀

      Thank you, I’m having a great week and Monday was my son’s 21st birthday. Lots of video calls, laughter, fizz – and seeing him in a few weeks to give him those birthday hugs!

      1. Aww! Can’t beat a few hugs, Annika. We’re still on the rocky road to getting ours into his first owned home. More complicated than you might think! And checking flights to see when we might be able to pop back and see for ourselves.

    1. Natalie, thank you so much for your wonderful comment which so succinctly sums up the importance and magic of books. How we travel in those stories, on so many levels – I could not imagine a life without them! I’m so glad you enjoyed the story – some fun inspired by Diana’s challenge!

  8. This is such a wonderful story, Annika. And so timely for me to read. TBR piles definitely can be dangerous. I hurt my back this week by….reading. Long story but very true! I think when others ask what happened to my back I will need to come up with a more believable excuse! 😀

    1. Oh no, Donna! I’m so sorry to read about your back and I hope it is soon better. I can see why some wouldn’t believe reading can be a dangerous and physical activity but I don’t doubt you in the least. Over a few nights last year my shoulder became so painful I couldn’t hold anything or lift it – it took a few days to realise I’d changed the way I was holding my Kindle in bed. So glad you enjoyed the story and here’s to tackling our TBR pile in the safest way possible! hugs 🤗

    1. Betsy, I bet there will soon be therapy sessions for us all burdened with our guilt over the ginormaous TBR pile of books! Hopefully the unread books are more unstanding than these here! Thank you so much for your kind comment and Happy Reading! 😀

      1. It’s sort of like gift cards, isn’t it? Companies love gift card purchases because they get the money up front and a large percentage of the cards are never used. A 12-step program for book buying but not reading addicts is probably in the works. 😉

  9. Great imagination in this almost dystopian story of books and information lol. I particularly liked the phrase ‘digital dungeon.’ Definitely a lonely place for our books lol. ❤

    1. Debby, it was fun to let my imagination run riot with this one and I too feel more than ever for all the books trapped in the ‘digital dungeon’. So glad you like that phrase and the story! Thank you! xx ❤️

  10. What a fascinating take on our dilemma of keeping up with our TBR books! I’ve not yet fallen under the spell of the eBook reader and its immense storage capacity. The joy of holding a newly printed book still holds me in its thrall 🙂

    1. Rosaliene, I’m glad you enjoyed the direction my muse took with this challenge! 😀

      The sense of awe and enchantment of a new book is magical, I agree and an Ereader was not my first choice! Owing to a corneal disease of both my eyes which affects my vision I reluctantly tried my first Kindle. The ease of reading and the lack of headaches were amazing and it transformed my life. Through groups online I know many with this and other eye problems find eReaders have been a literary lifeline!

  11. petespringerauthor

    I can just imagine the law group’s advertisement—we specialize in irreconcilable e-book differences. Well done, Annika!

    1. Balroop, thank you so much for your great comment! My first piece on this was rather different but then I started to feel for the books and just had to write another (crazier!) one from their POV! 😀 The way technology is going I do fear/feel awe/trepidation/wonder at which direction it all will take in the future!

      I’m looking forward to reading your poem in response to the challenge! Popping over soon! xx

  12. Hahaha! 😀 Great story! I don’t use a Kindle or other electronic reader (I live in a very electronic work world and need to escape it; I also just like a paper book) so there’s no hiding the size of the pile which tends to slow any further acquisition. I won’t need an implant yet. 🙂

    1. Lynette, it’s great you enjoyed the story so much … glad there’s no e-Reader with books stuck in the digital dungeon; just be careful your pile of paperbacks doesn’t try to mutiny! 😀 One does tend to buy fewer of these though so there is less of a danger of revolt!

  13. What a delightfully fun, creative, and a little scary story Annika! You and your books have run amok! I’ve resisted a kindle so far with only a few, maybe 15, books on my laptop. I much prefer reading a physical book so I continue to use the library for my reading addiction, and no partner to suffer the neglect. 😀 I wonder if the library books are planning to join the revolt? 😀

    1. Brad, I can see the movement definitely growing to include all unread books … and oh, those libraries with their impressive collections! We better watch out! 😀

      It’s great you enjoyed the story so much, with just a tad bit of scariness! 😀

      Personally, I was against a Kindle and my father in law kept recommending it as I have a disease of both my corneas which does affect my eyesight. In the end, my FIL got fed up with my opposition to an e-reader and bought me one for birthday present! Well, I had to say thank you and give it go. For me, it was amazing, an end to headaches, loved the ease of reading but yes, actual physical books are very precious.

    1. Thank you so much, Jacqui! 😀 It was a laugh to write this and I deliberately haven’t looked yet to see others creations until this was fully finished. I began to think of all those books and wondered what were they feeling, what did they want? Haha! It is a type of digital dungeon for them all, isn’t it?! 😀

  14. “Tom wanted to cite her ‘book addiction’ on the divorce papers but she’d refused to sign.” That line is so true! Ah the poor neglected spouses, Annika. I absolutely loved the breakout – all those books flying free into the world. What a vision. I liked Maggie’s solution but an empty ebook-reader seemed kind of sad. Lol. I’m looking forward to sharing, my friend. Thanks for playing and Happy Reading!

    1. Diana, thank you for your wonderful inspiring challenge … as soon as I saw your post my mind was buzzing with ideas. The first story, very different from ‘The Unread’ and I thought this suited the challenge much better! Haha! 😀 It was a throwaway phrase about book addiction being a valid reason for divorce yet definitely a hint of reality for many! The patience and understanding of our long-suffering partners! 😀 It means a lot that you enjoyed the story but agree an empty e-reader is difficult to imagine. Last month my Kindle ‘died’ and started up from scratch until I put in my password there wasn’t a single book on it – frightening!😀 There was an audible sigh of relief as they tumbled onto the screen once again – all in the wrong order though!

      1. Ah! That empty kindle must have been frightening! I felt that sudden panic in the story too. Ha ha. And our partners have to deal with us writing AND reading – It’s amazing they get dinner and a hello. 🙂 Thanks again for contributing to the fun, my friend. Happy Reading!

    1. 😂Robbie, you better find a good hiding place! 😂 Yikes, that is a humungous amount of unread books — suddenly 100 doesn’t seem so bad! So glad you liked the story and Happy Reading!

  15. Thanks for the guilt nudge. 😉 This is wonderfully creative and I’m thinking about the unread books on my Kindle–some of them are from fellow bloggers. This could be a whole new take on AI. Is that a slim electrode probe, I feel in the tingle on the back of my neck?

    1. 😂😂 Pat, I love how your comment enters into the spirit of this story and I bet one day those electrodes won’t just be a piece of fanciful fiction rather a reality! My son is studying AI at uni and hence a subject I love learning more about! Oh, the guilt is all-pervasive isn’t it?! Good luck with catching up on some of your TBR books this year. Maybe we just need to find a way to stop time for an hour each day?!😀

      1. Wonderful idea to be able to stop time. I’ve got this Vernon my bonnet on if I ever had a time machine, which blogger would I like to journey with and when/where would we go. Luisa and I plan to visit the Field of Gold in 16th century France. Where should we go?

  16. Annika, you have had me in tears from laughing. All the way, every paragraph.
    I can’t think which is most clever and fun, your imagination had a ball. Even ending up off the Harley Street for an implant…..😊.

    I love all these books making an escape plan and running away. Did it hurt your brain? 💕🦋.

    Miriam

    1. Miriam, thank you so much and it’s fantastic the story had you in tears of laughter – just what I hoped and it was a lot of fun to write this! I’m glad you felt that it never lost its momentum and sense of wacky! Luckily it didn’t cause pain in my brain to create this … now the guilt of my burgeoning TBR books does hurt me! How to stop time so I can just READ! 😀❤️

    1. Thank you so much, Darlene! 😀 This was fun to write and at last, my unread books have been given a voice! Good luck with tackling your TBR books on your Kindle. It doesn’t help to know that they can hold 10,000 books. Has anyone tested it to this limit?! 😀

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