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Sunday Salon: Book pressure

My bookish experience of the last few weeks has a distinct resemblance to a saying I remember from my childhood:   You wait hours for the number 11 bus and then three come along at the same time…

Late in July, shortly after the Man Booker prize long list was announced I trotted off to my local library clutching my list of the contenders for the 2013 title.  Silly me. I had forgotten that when I did the same thing last year I came away empty handed. I was too early it seemed and the books were not even on order within the library system. This time wasn’t much more successful. Yes there were some copies of one or two of the books in the county system but ….. they were all on reserve for the reading groups. So individual punters like myself wouldn’t get a look in until these groups were done with them.  Protestations about the  inequity of this approach proved to no avail.

Luckily these groups didn’t seem to linger long over their chosen novels.  Yet come August when these treasured works began to be released for us  plebs, there was not surprisingly a long waiting list. So I waited … and waited for one to come my way. Then suddenly last week my name made it to the top of the list. Not just of one but of three books.  You’d have thought there would much jubilation in the Booker Talk household at this news. Well yes and no – because although the books are now in the house, because there is still a waiting list, I have to read them within the stipulated three weeks and no, it was made clear, I could not renew them.

Which poses something of a difficulty. Because though I can read relatively quickly, there is no way I can read three books in three weeks. Particularly when one of them is the 832-page The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton.  I did manage to read the shortest one – Alison Macleod’s Unexploded . But now I am up against the clock to finish Tash Aw’s Five Star Billionaire which has 500 pages within 7 days. I hate rushing through books – I want to linger and savour them not gobble them up. But if I send this back heaven knows when it will come my way again.

I should vow that next year I will be more disciplined. But somehow when the moment comes I have  a feeling that good intensions will have all evaporated.

How about you – do you ever get over enthusiastic when buying or acquiring books and then find yourself with a mountain to climb??

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