Dr. Gingerich is a professor of the history of science at Harvard. One day, he read a claim that no one had ever read Copernicus' De revolutionibus orbium coelestium. I know that we all have a book on our shelf that we just have to have for some reason, but never actually read. Or perhaps even need to read.
Now, really, someone had to have read this book. It's hard to recall that we didn't always take for granted the Sun is the center of the solar system, but 4 centuries ago almost no one believed this. Was Copernicus' book important, or wasn't it?
Dr. Gingerich chose to find out, and started tracking down every copy of De revolutionibus he could find, with an eye to looking at any marginal notes he could find. (Everyone wrote in their books back then, which I find odd given how much more expensive they were than now.) This little project has launched the author into an adventure that is now entering its fourth decade, and now tells the story of how we came to learn that the Earth moves around the Sun.
I'm about 60% through. If any of you have read it, please don't give away the ending :-)
Oh, by the way...
What book do you insist on keeping on your shelf regardless of the fact that you'll never ever read it?