At the start of the year I pledged to cut down on buying new books because — like so many other avid readers — I already had far too many unread titles hanging around the house. According to my calculations I had 135 physical books yet to be read (I ran out of fingers and toes so there may have been a margin of error in that figure) plus an untallied number of e-books.
I’ve been good for most of the year with only one or two purchases of books needed for the local book club meeting. But all those good intentions have now gone by the wayside since August saw somewhat of an explosion in the purchasing department.
It was the perfect convergence of three factors…..
Reason Excuse #1: The Booker long list had been announced at the end of July and I wanted to read at least a few of the 13 titles before the winner is announced in October. I did try getting them from the library but had only marginal success so to make sure I had at least something to read until my requests came through, I ended up buying e-versions of Niall Williams’ History of the Rain and Karen Joy Fowler’s We are All Completely Beside Ourselves.
Reason #2: I had to hang around for a few hours in the city center one day and of course, gravitated to the bookshop and a number of books just leapt into my arms. I became the owner of:
- Empress Dowager Cixi by Jung Chang (it’s rare for me to buy a non fiction book but I loved her Wild Swans)
- The Fortune of the Rougons which is the first in the Rougon-Macquart series by Emile Zola;
- Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford, which is one of the books on my classics club list and
- Spell It Out, the Story of English Spelling by David Crystal, an author whose work on language in Shakespeare helped get me through some tough Open University coursework a few years ago.
Reason #3: Speaking of which, I am about to embark on an Open University module in early October and needed to buy a few of the set text books. I’m doing this purely as a way of keeping the brain cells ticking over but it still involves a lot of reading and some essay writing. It’s a multi disciplinary course in which we look at philosophy music of Shostakovitch and the art of Cezanne. Some of those hold more interest than others for me (I have very little ear for music and Shostakovitch is certainly not a composer I appreciate) but I’m looking forward to the art sections and the history. And of course there are some literature components which is why I’ve bought:
- Two plays: Christopher Marlowe’s Faustus and Seamus Heaney’s The Burial at Thebes
- a book of poetry (The Faber Book of Beasts by Paul Muldoon) and
- A World of Difference: an Anthology of Short Stories from Five Continents edited by Lynda Prescott. This last one sounds a treat since it includes work by leading writers such as V S Naipul, Zadie Smith and Peter Carey. Their contributions are all on the theme of difference.
Even with all these purchases I’ve still got a TBR list of 134 which is smaller (fractionally) than when I started the year which is progress of a sort. Now I’ve got the book buying bug out of my system I should be able hold on for another three months without any more purchases.