One hundred and eleven books. My goodness, I have been naughty.
Buying books for me has become a compulsion. Maybe it has always been there. I love books, but lately it seems to me that I love buying them even more. I love to do it. I love going into a bookshop, picking up a book, putting it back down, touching it. Choosing it. Feeling like I just have to have it, right at that moment. I guess some people get this feeling with shoes or gadgets or lingerie, but for me, it’s books. I can promise you at for all the books on this list that I bought, when we were together in the bookshop, I just had to have them.
It took me quite a long time to write up this list of books. Well, an hour or so. And then another ten minutes to go back over everything and try to remember in what year I bought it all. I know virtually all the titles I have up there by heart, mainly because I have owned many of them for such a long time.
When I look at this list, I must admit that I don’t feel all that proud of it. I feel like it doesn’t quite reflect what I normally read, because for the past six or seven years, these are the books that have, until now, been left behind. I also can’t help but think of all the money I’ve spent on these books. It’s not as much as you’re thinking. I spent a year over 2009 and 2010 working as a Bookseller, and then a few years back I worked through my summers and Christmases as a Bookseller while I was a student, so a lot of my spending has happened during the times when I have been both employed and surrounded by books. My last stint as a Bookseller is mostly to blame for the majority of what’s on this list. Some of them were bought with my staff discount; others were grabbed as proof copies.
The rest of the list, particularly the stuff which has been sitting up there for a while, is either stuff that I have always meant to get round to reading (like Fragile Things, or A Room of One’s Own) or is stuff that I bought at the time thinking it sounded great, but am now not so sure that it will be as enjoyable as I thought (like This is Where I Leave You, and Yes Man). Others were given to me (like Recovery and Ten Storey Love Song), which are not quite to my taste, and others I have tried to read and enjoy but have not yet been able to (like Generation X and Slaughterhouse 5).
Right now, I’m unemployed which leaves me with two things that I desperately need to get this project off the ground – the first is no money. I can’t buy new things without having a job, so instead I have pledged to make the effort to get through all of these books before I buy any more. The second thing I have which is really a by-product of having no job, is having lots of time; I am a quick reader.
I should explain how I managed to end up with such a huge number of books without realising it. It wasn’t hard to do. In the past couple of years I have moved four times, and each time a selection of books would come with me, and then when I had to move again, those books would remain packed up and I would start acquiring books again without realising the remaining large number of books that I already owned still tucked away in a box somewhere.
In August last year I was offered a job at a publishing house in New York for a few months, so I dropped pretty much everything and moved all my stuff back home before moving out there with just a suitcase. At home, I had half-heartedly tried to unpack my remaining things and put my books up onto a shelf, not quite realising that the count was already well into the 60s.
In New York, they had other books. Other lovely, lovely books. And of course I couldn’t resist! I came home with my luggage roughly 10kg overweight with the books I had bought out there.
Then there was Christmas and my birthday, and the couple of trips into my old store where I had missed out on some English releases while I was away, and I added those to my shelves. It wasn’t until a few days later, I did a count and realised that I had one hundred and eleven books on my shelves. I knew that something needed to be done. I knew that I needed to start reading some of these or else they would probably never get read. And in the meantime, I am not to buy any more books. I’m not sure I can do it. I have a great little library to choose from now, but with that number of books, it could be a year before I can buy anything new.
I guess I’m just going to have to put that compulsion on hold for a while.