This blog began in an (I’ll admit it) fairly random and rambling fashion. Although still plagued with an overabundance of parentheses, colons (full and semi) and asides, things have calmed down somewhat into a regular, one-book-review-per-entry format.
But I like to keep you on your toes.
I originally pictured this blog being a forum for me to write anything and everything I could think of about books, and so from time to time I will throw in the occasional unfocused entry. One regular post, inspired by the man and the column which inspired this entire blog palaver, will be: Books Bought.
Nick Hornby’s monthly column in The Believer magazine begins each month with a list of all of the books he has bought that month, ranging from one, (usually a Dickens), to a fairly long and often eclectic list. But when I say ‘fairly long’ I am, as someone who can go out for a fifteen minute walk and somehow come back with half a dozen paperbacks, using the term more or less ironically. Sometimes even I don’t know where they’ve come from.
As such, after I returned from a month-long holiday I decided to keep a ‘Books Bought’ diary, and present it here, with annotated explanations, for your delectation. However, given my purchasing proclivities, I decided to limit it to a week, rather than the embarrassingly long entry which a month’s worth would provide.
So here, for the week beginning January 18th, 2012, is my first week of
‘Don’t Read This Book if You’re Stupid,’ Tibor Fischer
‘Madame Bovary,’ Gustave Flaubert
‘Solar,’ Ian McEwan
The Believer magazine, Issue 68, January 2012
‘Scouting for Boys,’ Robert Baden Powell
‘The Warden,’ Anthony Trollope
‘Atonement,‘ Ian McEwan
‘The Ask and the Answer,’ Patrick Ness
‘Alice In Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass,’ Lewis Carroll
‘The Dark Tourist,’ Dom Joly
‘You’re a Bad Man Mr.Gum,’ Andy Stanton
‘Heart of a Dog,’ Mikhail Bulgakov
‘A.A.Gill is Away,’ A.A.Gill
‘Confessions of a Conjuror,’ Derren Brown
Penguin Publishing ‘Great Ideas’ box set, (from Seneca to George Orwell)
About an average shopping week for me, I think, which gives you a fair idea of why, when I get around to reading maybe three or four books a week in a good seven days, The Cupboard is growing in volume rather than losing book weight.
Any thoughts? Have you read (m)any? Looking forward to any of the reviews to come? As of today I have read only four of them, and two of them not in the past few years, (I bought the McEwan to finish off a three for the price of two offer, and the Alice books because I found them in a nice, new Vintage double edition for a pound in a charity shop, and couldn’t remember if I even owned them, two of my favourite ever books. It turns out that yes, of course I did, but still…)
The Believer review you have hopefully already ingested and enjoyed in a previous blog post, and the Mr.Gum review is coming up next in a few days. As for the rest, half of them are already relegated to The Boxes at the back of my cupboard. I hadn’t even heard of Trollope, (the other book which made up the ridiculous buy-one-get-two-free offer which landed me the beautiful and highly racist Boy Scout handbook); Mme.Bovary is one of those classics which always seems to come off second best to more modern fare when choosing the next tome to read; and the A.A.Gill and Dom Joly books are fascinating-looking travel writing which I doubt will be read anytime soon, but which I bought because:
a) I have written a book of travel writing, and my agent friend told me that the best way to write better travel writing was to read more travel writing;
b) I love Joly’s TV comedy show, ‘Trigger Happy TV,’ and can imagine his writing being extremely entertaining, and Gill seems to be one of those extremely respected journalists about whom people write things like “He cannot write a bad sentence,” and;
c) Whilst the Joly was just a standard paperback, the Gill was a beautiful, sleek hardback copy which will go the distance in the Back Cupboard.
(I should probably explain here the three levels of book storage which make up the library which is my bedroom: Firstly, The Cupboard, full of the most pressing, soon-to-be-read books; then The Boxes, themselves divided into a Front Box, which contains the books ready to be promoted to The Cupboard when space permits, and the Back Boxes, which contain books I haven’t read and which, given what lies ahead of them in the Front Box, The Cupboard and shops the length and breadth of the world, are going to struggle merely to make it to the Front Box; and finally the Back Cupboard, wherein reside an even split of books I have read but don’t feel like releasing back into the wild, and books I may not have read but which are too beautiful (and usually large), to be merely left to rot in The Boxes. There are further subdivisions and annexes, from the Signed Book Shelf to the Downstairs Shelves, but you can’t give all of your secrets away, can you?).
As for the others:
‘The Ask and the Answer’ is the second in a trilogy I have been after since I read the first one a year ago, and finally found rather randomly for sale for 20p in my local library, (why the second volume and neither of the others I’m not sure, although it raises a whole new blog entry on why I would buy a fairly grubby copy of a book I’m probably not going to want to keep when I could just read it from free from the library! Stay tuned…);
the Bulgakov, (author of the wonderful ‘The Master and Margarita‘), was purchased after seeing a rather good National Theatre play on his life last month with my parents, as part of the series of plays broadcast live to cinemas across the world;
the Derren Brown, one of my favourite illusionist, was a truly ridiculous find, as I’d just wandered into a high street discount book shop wondering if they had it, and of course they didn’t. Until I walked past a worker, unpacking an entire box of them at the front door;
and the Penguin box set of gorgeous, miniature editions of twenty of the greatest literary and philosophical minds of all time is something which will look amazing on the shelf, and which I hope to be able to polish off, one by one…although it was very unkindly pointed out to me that it is only the first 20 of 100 volumes.
So, that was a sneak peak into my book-shopping, matieral-choosing and brain-thinking habits. How do you choose yours?