Have you really read that book you read?

I have been doing a some work in the last few weeks cleaning up my libraries on Goodreads.  I have been putting in some of the information about when I have read books, throwing reviews up when have one, and I was stumped with the older books in my library.  I am finding that I am not feeling comfortable with designating them as read or rating them.

Por ejemplo (allow me to practice my limited Spanish):

I read this book in my freshman year of college.  At this point that is quite sometime ago.  I was seventeen. I’m not even sure if back then I had ever read anything about a country or culture outside of the United States; I would have to think about it, really long and hard (I’m not counting anything British, or Western European for that matter).  African history was neither a top priority nor one that was thoroughly addressed in my American education.  What I remember about this book is really vague.  There was a village and some sort of conflict, they ate food with which I was unfamiliar.  I don’t remember liking it.  I think I was overwhelmed with a lot of things which I deemed “other” at the time, and at seventeen I was just overwhelmed and didn’t get it.

When I read the description of Things Fall Apart now, it seems like it is an amazing book and one that all these years later would be right up my alley.  Achebe is considered to have written a masterpiece which realistically portrays pre-colonized Nigeria (without romanticizing it) and the changes that occurred when Nigeria was colonized by Great Britain.  It was written in 1958, just two years before Nigeria declared its independence from British rule.

Ultimately I decided to change this book from “read” to “unread”. I couldn’t have told you a thing about this book without reading the description, and even reading it really doesn’t bring back that many memories.  I would like to read it “again”.

As I go through my library I will be considering all the books that I have read, seeing how much I remember and making some decisions about whether I really want to consider a book “read” where I have few memories and even less understanding of it. I could be missing out on some good books by saying that I have read them already.

How about you?  Are there some books in your library that you might have to consider “unread” if you really think about it?  How do you make the determination as to whether you have read a book or not?  Is there any thing that you are missin

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