Friday, November 25, 2016

On not buying books

Yesterday for lunch I went to the bookstore. Food for thought, food for the soul. Usually I just like to browse, just being in a bookstore brings me comfort (and I'm lucky to have recently found a non-big-box-chain store near my office — I blame the shifting streets of Old Montreal, like mischievous Hogwarts staircases, for keeping it hidden from me for so long), but yesterday, uncharacteristically, I splurged on impulse.

I have tried to keep in check the acquisition of books, but when displaying my spoils back at the office (just three books), a coworker, having witnessed me purchase books on two occasions and at other times open packages of books, called me on this delusion of mine.

Since September,
  • The Ballad of Black Tom, Victor LaValle — because a review made me want it, it's Lovecraftian
  • Le Chat, Georges Simenon — to practice my French
  • The Crying of Lot 49, Thomas Pynchon — because I've been planning to read it for years, so finally now
  • The Door, Magda Szabó — because I wanted Iza's Ballad (because the name) but it wasn't available, and NYRB Classics books are beautiful
  • Exercises in Style, Raymond Queneau — because it's exercises in style, so I can argue that it's related to my work
  • The Familiar, Volume 2, Mark Z Danielewski — because volume 1 was exhilarating, and it's fascinating as an object
  • The Hand, Georges Simenon — because I'd never heard of it, and since it's not available in Canada it's that much more precious
  • The Invisible Library, Genevieve Cogman — because it was on all sorts of books-to-watch-for lists and it cost less than 2 dollars, and it might be about a library
  • The Last Days of New Paris, China Miéville — because Miéville is one of the few authors about whom I feel I must own his entire oeuvre
  • The Loney, Andrew Michael Hurley — because I had it on a list somewhere, I don't know why
  • Monday Starts on Saturday, Arkady and Boris Strugatsky — because now available in English, plus it's an excellent title
  • So You Don't Get Lost in the Neighbourhood, Patrick Modiano — because I'd never heard of it, and I felt a connection to Modiano this summer, and it was shelved in the thriller section
  • The Vegetarian, Han Kang — because I've been wanting to see what the fuss is about, but it wasn't available at my library, and I know I can hand it off to someone afterward
And before September, the last time I purchased a book was August, and before that was June. If you don't count the travel guide I picked up in July, along with some other vacation-reading material.

That's not counting the books I've purchased as gifts for other people, which typically occasion an oh-I'll-just-pick-up-a-little-something-for-myself-then-too moment, which helped contribute to the above.

Some of the above books were rationalized in a my-birthday-is-coming-soon way, and then an it-was-just-my-birthday-so-of-course-I-should-treat-myself way.

I'm proud to be using the library more regularly this year (quite suddenly they have a decent selection of ebooks), and when I'm hankering for something new I'm likely to browse NetGalley review copy offerings. At least some of the books listed above are ebooks (for which I'll rarely allow myself to spend more $5). I have not listed here the free ebooks I've acquired.

But believe me when I say it's not a spending problem so much as a space problem. I've become adept at slipping books in and overlooking them mentally; physically, it's a bit more challenging. Surely I'm a victim of book creep — the steady but so-slow-as-to-be-almost-imperceptible advance of books from designated shelves and corners onto most surfaces of my living space.

Me not buying books? Not very good at it.

1 comment:

Stefanie said...

Excellent new acquisitions! Looking forward to hearing what you think of The Vegetarian!