More Mishmashing

I had lunch with my friend today.  Her husband was urging her to confess the latest catastrophe scenario for which she was preparing. ‘I’m worried I haven’t got enough books downloaded onto my kindle in case I get kidnapped,’ she said. Well yes, I can see that would be concerning. What keeps me awake at night is figuring out how to evacuate the maximum number of books from my house in the event of fire or flood. The real key here is whether I could persuade the men to help. My son would be up for it, but that Mister Litlove is unpredictable.

My friend loves her kindle (and good for her) so I didn’t quite explain that I’d been stockpiling books against the onslaught of the ereader. But – and here we all take a collective gasp – I have decided to make a concerted effort not to buy many books in the second half of the year. As I mentioned in a previous post, I get the feeling I’ve also been stockpiling to bolster myself against the prospect of my own mortality, and believe you me, I have been quite effective on my own behalf. But just the other day, that little fantasy turned around and bit me. Wouldn’t it be just dreadful, I thought, if I were to die before reading all the books I own? So, hard as it may be, I’m going to slow the acquisition rate right down. And I might try and read a little more slowly. I’ve actually kept a reading diary this year and I’m surprised to note I read far more books a month than I thought I did. Where I’d guessed at 7 or 8 a month, I turn out to be reading around 12.

That being said, I had hoped to finish Paul Auster’s New York Trilogy in time to review it today, but I have the last story still to read. Then again, who would really want a serious review on a Friday in August? I’m also reading Angela Carter’s Wise Children and the contrast between the two books is entertaining. Talk about yin and yang! The Auster is cool, cerebral, low-key, the language is restrained, quite dry in places, while the Carter is rich and bawdy and often rude, a verbal banquet that overwhelms the reader’s mental palate. I’ve been enjoying them both. In their very different ways, they never cease posing intriguing questions, although the Carter is a big firework display, and the Auster a tricky library quiz.

So that’s my reading for the weekend, although there are other books hovering on the periphery. I have a biography of Victorian lady traveller, Isabella Bird, as she’s the next author to audition for my book. And I’d like to start The Hare with Amber Eyes soon, also one of the Italian novels in translation I’ve been promising myself, The Leopard, perhaps or the Italo Svevo (also up for audition as his life and his career were transformed by a meeting with James Joyce). And for several weeks, Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall has been calling my name. So many enticing things in the queue, as always.

And last but not least, the lovely Kim at Reading Matters, featured the Reading Room in her Triple Choice Tuesday slot. I feel honored as Kim is pretty much book blog royalty and TCT is a post I always read.

Hope you all have a lovely restful weekend with lots of good reading!



17 thoughts on “More Mishmashing

  1. I also want to slow down on buying books but with the Swiss franc being so strong…(Just an excuse, of course)
    I’m finishing Morante’s La Storia this weekend. What a book! And got a few other plans and books on the go. Some crime, some more literary.
    I wanted to review Josipovici, now I’m not sure… I think he’s a thinker but not a writer… Would be interesting to discuss this…

  2. I too have been cutting down on my book-buying (with the exception of the France trip, which I feel was justified). I like to keep my hoard between 1-2 years’ worth of reading, and it was edging over the mark. Although it doesn’t really make sense in terms of disaster-preparation, I start to feel panicky if I have too many volumes unread.

    I don’t think I commented on your earlier post about your book project, but it sounds so interesting! And so many possible directions to go with different types of writerly crisis, and various ways that different coped with the similar types of crisis. I’ll be interested to watch the auditions unfold. 😉

  3. Hahahahahahha, I am in complete sympathy with your friend. If I had a Kindle I would worry about that exact same thing, even though I currently do not worry about it at all. I am always worrying about book-related issues in catastrophe situations. The reason I cataloged my books on LibraryThing was that I got worried I wouldn’t be able to replace them in case of hurricane.

  4. Good luck with the book-buying moratory. I hope you’re better at this than me.
    I think Mr Litlove has things in common with Mr Emma, regarding books, at least.

  5. Well, I definitely have enough books on my e-reader (almost 200) if I get kidnapped (whew!)–I just hav to make sure I always remember to put it in my purse so I’ll have it with me in case of kipnap. But now I have a dilemma that hadn’t occurred to me. In case of fire, do I rescue my ereader (almost 200 books!) or an armful of paper books. Most of the e-reader books were free, so I can get them again, but I paid for the paper books, so perhaps those should go first. And then do I focus on unread books, which I may not like once I do read them, or old favorites, which I know I love.

    I tell myself someday I’ll get down to maybe a year’s worth of unread books in the house, but I’m realizing that’s never going to happen because I do love picking up a book or two (or more) each month. However, I’ve just recently let my single bookcase of unread books get over full, which I try never to do, so I’m on book-buying hold for a bit.

  6. I’ve had pretty much this exact negotiation with myself on multiple occasions (I’ve got enough books to last for over a decade if the apocalypse came… but I need to stockpile more for when print production dries up… but what happens if I die without reading them all? Or in the middle of a book? Ack!)

    By the by, I haven’t read the Isabella Bird biography, but I always remember her fondly as quite a signficant character in the play Top Girls.

  7. I resolved I wouldn’t buy any more books for awhile, but was tempted by The Hare with Amber Eyes and after reading the beginning, I’m glad I succumbed, but plan to do some clearing of the decks (aka tbr piles ) by the end of the year…time will tell…

  8. Some e-readers can be used to send emails or access the internet, if you know how. So any kidnapper worth his/her salt would take it away. And what if the battery runs out? So maybe your friend should keep a couple paperbacks in her bag at all times as well…and avoid place like Columbia and Somalia. I don’t worry (enough?) about disasters. I wander around like Mr. Magoo, assuming I will be ok. However, now that I am on the wrong side of 40, I need reading glasses for small print and poorly lit areas and as optimistic as I am, I don’t think my eyes are going to get better as I age. So I do worry sometimes about being in a situation where I don’t have any glasses handy and will need them…like that Twilight Zone episode where Burgess Meredith is the last man on earth, surrounded by books and he breaks his glasses.

  9. “Wouldn’t it be just dreadful, I thought, if I were to die before reading all the books I own?”

    But you’d be dead, so what would it matter?

  10. The thought that I could die before I’d read all my unread books has hit me with force these last two weeks – and it horrified me. So I too am slowing down on buying books and also from borrowing from the library, until I’ve read many more of my own. There is no way I could rescue them all if we had a fire! And that is one reason why I catalogued them on LibraryThing so I would know what I had so I could replace them.

    I have a Kindle and my worry if I was kidnapped (extremely unlikely and anyway would they let me have my Kindle) would be that the battery life would go before I could read all the books on it.

    Oh, and do read Wolf Hall!

  11. LOL. I, too, sometimes think that it would be horrible if I didn’t finish all the books in my TBR pile, then I wonder if I’m the only one who thinks these things. The blogging community, however–posts like this in particular–has made me realize that I’m not alone. 🙂

  12. Caroline – How interesting! I like Josipovici better as a writer than as a thinker (have you read In A Hotel Garden, or Everything Passes?) so I would be most intrigued to hear what you have to say. And if the currency exchange rate is good… ach, what can you do? 😉

    Jacob – I think you are thinking of Verbivore over at Incurable Logophilia – she was working her way through all of Woolf’s writings, while I was just muddying the waters by reading Orlando a little while back. She’s a delightful blogger and so I’m very happy to be confused with her!

    Emily – oh I can’t decide which way I feel worse at the moment! Although 1-2 years is good. I think I may have about 8 or so years stockpiled, which my menfolk thought outrageous, but I considered on the edge of acceptable….. And thank you so much for the vote of confidence. I do appreciate it!

    Jenny – can see where you’re coming from with the hurricane thing. I’m so tempted to tell my friend about that one but….. perhaps I’d better not! 🙂

    Emma – what are we to do with them? Never mind – they’ll see it our way eventually. 🙂

    Teresa – oh! oh! the difficulties! I hadn’t thought about whether I should take old favourites or new books. I was just trying to systematically salvage them all. But really….there should be a heirarchy, no? But relieved to hear that the kindle is well stocked – strap it to your person. I like the idea of just a year’s worth stored up – that sounds very economical and reasonable to me!

    Ariel – I don’t even know the play! I will have to look it up. And thank you for having about as many books in your tbr as me. I now feel comfortably in line with academic expectations. I do worry about the end of print production, although my son insists that by the time I reach the end of my books, I could easily start over again at the beginning. I fear this is a glib platitude.

    Susan E – did you enjoy The Hare With Amber Eyes? I am looking forward to it. But I agree, there is just too much temptation out there to be entirely disciplined. Where would the fun be in that? 😉

    Ruthiella – lol! And yet, ooh, scary. My heart goes out to you about the glasses. I hadn’t thought about that, and should perhaps work something out. The battery issue is a tricky one – I don’t dare point it out to my friend; she has enough on her plate. 😉

    Jeff – it would make dying EVEN worse. Bad enough as it is, but to expire aware of all the unread books…. I shudder.

    Margaret – I had never before realised how useful a book catalogue would be – I’d never thought of it in those terms. I really want one now, but know I am too undisciplined to create one. What a quandary! You’re quite right about the battery life issue, although I am glad I didn’t think of it while I was with my friend. I’d hate to add to her worries. And I most certainly will get to Wolf Hall! I can’t believe I haven’t already.

    Darlyn – isn’t the blogging community just the most reassuring thing ever?? I confess all my oddities here and it’s such a relief to be amongst kindred souls! 🙂

    Lilian – guess I’ll just have to try! 🙂

  13. I find figuring out the right balance between accumulating new books and being content with the ones I have is so difficult. And it used to be so easy and natural! I would just buy a book when I needed a new one, read it, and then buy another! No longer … but that’s okay. It’s probably a good time for me to try to read what I have instead of focusing on accumulating, but it’s such a pleasure to go book shopping, and I’m not sure I want to give that up, or cut back on it. It’s nice to have one area where I’m not trying to exercise self-control 🙂

  14. Your friend is funny. Hopefully if she is kidnapped she will have electricity to recharge her Kindle battery if she is held for longer than 2 weeks. Otherwise she is doomed. I have often thought about what books to save should my house ever catch fire but I give up in despair when I realize that I go up in flames with them as I scarbbled around trying to collect them all together. My husband does not believe I will be able to stick to my restricted book buying diet and is certain the piles will begin to reappear before the end of the year. I am determined to proove him wrong!

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