They say the first step on the road to recovery is admitting you have a problem. Don’t ask me who “they” are. I don’t know (I actually do now, because I just looked it up). But that’s beside the point, stop trying to get me off topic. We are not talking about the historical development of Bill W and Dr Bob’s twelve-step program (see what I did there? How I threw in what I just learnt? There really is no excuse for ignorance when we have the magic of Google). Side Bar: About a week ago, while sending an email, I typed “google” in a sentence, and Gmail auto-corrected it to “Google” (i.e. with a capital ‘G’), so as an experiment, I typed “god”, and it didn’t auto-correct it to “God”. I find this extremely amusing. Just me? Oh well.
Anyway, what was I saying? Oh yes, I was saying that I have a problem. Namely, that I am easily distracted. This post thus far? Case in point. This has severe implications for most activities in my life. Just 10 minutes ago I was doing reading preparation for the tutorial I am teaching, but now I’m doing this. I know what you’re going to say. It’s not procrastination exactly. I also start making tea and then forget to finish it because I started to watch YouTube, or I let pasta burn because I started to watch a new episode of Glee while I was ‘waiting for it to boil’. I find it hard to concentrate on just one thing.
There is a point to all this rambling. Namely, that yesterday I bought a book. It called out to me from the shelf with its beautiful gold lettering, and its cover was the exact same shade of deep blue as my couch.It made me think of tea and tucking my toes under cushions, and when I picked it up, I found out that the pages smelt the same as Harry Potter. From then my heart was well and truly smote.
Until recently, all my books had been in storage, but I unpacked them the other day and it struck me how many books I have that I have not finished reading, or in many cases have not even started reading. Which leads me to my problem. My problem of being an easily distracted and fickle reader, as well as a compulsive book buyer. It’s not my fault that all the covers look like a special brand of candy.
Nick Hornby, a famous author who I once sat across the room from in London, once said: “All the books we own, both read and unread, are the fullest expression of self we have at our disposal. …But with each passing year, and with each whimsical purchase, our libraries become more and more able to articulate who we are, whether we read the books or not.” This idea is one which I find particularly fascinating, because it would not only be the books that we enjoy reading that are telling about us, but also the books which we want people to think we are reading, or the books that we think we should read in order to become a certain type of person. Moreover, it is not only the content of the book that is telling, but the very fact that we bought it, and whether or not we read it, and where we put it on display afterwards (or perhaps even more interesting- where we hide it, and why).
I’m not sure what the half read pile of books next to my bed says about me. What I do know is that I should definitely not ever buy a Kindle, because I would needlessly download a bazillion books that I will not ever get around to reading.