Sayta Nadella, the recently appointed CEO of Microsoft, mentioned these words in his first memo to employees-
Many who know me say I am also defined by my curiosity and thirst for learning. I buy more books than I can finish. I sign up for more online courses than I can complete. I fundamentally believe that if you are not learning new things, you stop doing great and useful things .
This brings forward an interesting point about how to view a pile of unread books. As one can infer from Nadella's words, these could be viewed as a sign of one's curiosity or thinking opposite, it could be viewed as a sign of procrastination too. How could one better manage unread books ?
Clarify your purpose of reading (don't do directionless reading)
"When most people think, act or communicate they do so from outside in, from WHAT to WHY. And for good reason- they go from clearest thing to the fuzziest thing"
Most clearest thing in reading is which book to read but the fuzziest part is why read the chosen book. We tend to know- what we read, even think of How we read it, but it would be a mistake not thinking about Why we read the chosen stuff. What we eventually want out of our reading efforts greatly impacts how we do it. As an example, if we choose to read for knowledge, we will take notes while reading. If its reading for pleasure, we tend to simply go with the flow. If we are reading to teach someone, we will organize the information accordingly in our minds.
Having a reading goal not only helps one remain focused but also adds accountability in the process. The reading goal should not only be closely tied to the purpose of your reading but to reduce the load of unread books it is usually worthwhile having a timebound goal. The essence of timebound goal could be understood from this quote  from Prakash Iyer-
If you read for just half an hour everyday, you could finish a 250-page book in just two weeks' time. That's twenty-six books in a year. A hundred books in the next four years.”
If one chooses to think this way, the pile suddenly looks less cumbersome.
Don't pressurize yourself to read complete book
Once the purpose of your reading is clarified and goals established, it gives you ample direction not only on what to read but also on what to omit. Unlike what Steve Jobs did to music i.e. making it unbundled and enabling selling single songs than the entire albums, there is no such equivalent available yet for books. The books come as a complete set with all chapters. This organization may prompt readers to consume it entirely. One ought to remember that like a music album which comprises of good songs and not-so-good ones, a book usually has good chapters and not-so-good ones. So committing self to read the chapters that bring in maximum value and omitting the ones that don't may be a good way forward.
Don't let the sight of unread books overwhelm you
Unread books pile may evoke a sight of unfinished business leading to a negative feeling about something that ought to be done but is not done. It may give one a feeling of being "behind". Remember that negative thinking is a choice and so is positive thinking. Such a pile creates positive atmosphere of being surrounded by books.
The popularity of ebook readers and 1-click ordering and delivery of books purchase and delivery innovation means that one can buy and collect books with fair ease. This also means your unread book stock can get significantly higher than the physical books. The key to truncating the pile is to just start reading.
Do you agree ?