11 November 2007

Books and newspapers

I came across Juliet Doyle's Musings from a Muddy Island blog the other day. It's a splendidly eclectic mix of posts on printing and typography, books, photography and art. My attention was particularly drawn to her post on why we keep books. I totally identified with Juliet on this - Wordsmith Towers contains thousands of books, about half mine, the rest my Beloved P's. Neither of us ever get rid of books. Well, I do very occasionally, but only the freebie chick-lit cover mounts from women's magazines that I tend to read just once then recycle at my nearest charity shop. Chick lit is not a genre I normally bother with, you see. I fear that we will run out of space eventually for our books. My office is full of dictionaries and other "work" books. Cookery books are in the dining room next to the kitchen. The main living room has books on entertainment (film, rock music, soaps), exploration and geography, and history. The other living room is crammed with general fiction, crime novels, travel guides and maps. The spare bedroom contains P's sci-fi and fantasy novels. Our bedroom has shelves of erotica. The landing is shelved with politics and Judaica. And, well, you get the picture...

Books are my friends. I have favourite books I return to again and again, and books I read only once but will never part with. I grew up in a house crammed with book, was reading before I went school and cannot imagine having no books around me. I guess it explains why I chose the career I did. An ex of mine never read and I remember how shocked I was when we first met to discover that he owned just 6 books, 1 of which was the telephone directory and 2 of which were car repair manuals. When we moved in together he grumbled about the size of my book collection and banished all books from the living room. You can see why we were doomed...

I love looking at other people's book collections too. It can tell you masses about the kind of person they are, just as their wardrobe and CD collection will.

If you're quick, go to Radio 4 right now. The Beeb is running a series of very interesting programmes on journalism and newspapers. I'm having a lazy Sunday here, indulging in a marathon listening session to catch up on some of the programmes I missed earlier due to work pressure.

5 comments:

Juliet said...

Hi - and thanks for visiting the Muddy Island! Do call again. I worked, years ago, with someone who claimed not to possess a single book. Educated to A-level and Institute of Marketing diploma, she was far from stupid, but said she 'wasn't a reading person', that they were a terrible dust-trap and made a home look very untidy. She didn't even have any recipe books, because she 'wasn't a cooking person', either. I think it was the first time I'd encountered someone who actively disliked books! But then my career to that point had been school, university, bookselling, publishing . . . so I had led a very sheltered and book-orientated life (to which, thankfully, I quickly returned after that brief foray into the world of corporate finance!)

Martin Edwards said...

A fellow lawyer once told me he'd never read a single novel. This was bad enough. But what really alarmed me was that he was literary executor to a very distinguished writer of popular fiction..

wordsmith_for_hire said...

Juliet, thanks for the comment and I've already been back to your blog. I was interested to learn of your corporate finance background - editing financial stuff is one of my specialisms. My ex used to moan about books being a dust trap too!

Martin, hi and OMG (this is where I go into speechless fan mode). I've just read your first Dan Kind in the Lakes and loved it (crime novels being my favourite way to relax). Am planning to seek out the rest. Thank you for dropping by. I feel honoured. I fear for your legal colleague - that's really depressing!

See Me Repeat Me said...

I love books. I don't have quite the massive collection you have, but I'm building it up slowly but surely. I even have books I have yet to crack open! But I will, oh yes, I will.

Right now I'm getting myself acquainted with Iris Murdoch after being such a fan of John Bayley's bio of Ms. Murdoch. I decided to start off with The Sea, The Sea and, even though I'm only on page 125, oh man, I love, I LOVE! I will most definitely be getting me more Murdoch fiction ASAP.

I also think that the actual act of shopping for books is perhaps the greatest version of retail therapy there is. Though I do get disappointed when I latch onto an author and end up with every book out there on the shelves. I have every Lorrie Moore book. Same with Oscar Wilde. I nearly have every F. Scott Fitzgerald, but that's because there's so much of his stuff out there.

I cannot understand people who do not read. Wait, I can, sorta: If they've just emerged from an academics-intensive high school setting where they had to read tons of books for their English classes and they've just about had it in terms of book reading. I was like that for a few years. Then it dissipated and I once again found myself in love with reading. Plus, if you're absolutely nutso about music, all you have to do is play your favorite music while reading and presto, instant happiness.

wordsmith_for_hire said...

I love shopping for books. I must admit to using Amazon when I just need to order stuff in, especially when it's books for work, like new dictionaries. But you can't beat the pleasure of browsing in a bookshop. It's a great way to lose half a day. I also buy a lot of second-hand books from junk shops, charity shops and the like. I love the smell of second-hand bookshops - all dust and learning. These places are great for picking up hardback copies of things like biographies (which I must admit to being too tight to pay for and I usually wait for the paperback edition if I'm buying new) or out of print books. I often pick up old reference works this way. Some of the handiest work books I have were junk shop gems!

I have a penchant for buying vintage clothes from second-hand shops too, but that's another story.