The leftward and other blatherings of Span (now with Snaps!)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Span's inner bookedness

Violet has posted about which books on her shelves she'd like people to think reflect her, and which she'd rather they attributed elsewhere, or didn't notice at all. It got Make Tea thinking, and me too.

Perhaps the reason this idea resonates so strongly with me is that I spent a lot of time at university buying hoarding books that were rather aspirational; I wanted to be the kind of person that read those books. Some still haunt my shelves (not many, due to all those Alliance book sale fundraisers I ran in 2002) and they are mute reminders of a time when I desperately wanted to be a Proper Bookish University Student, but was actually mainly a Pretty Trashy Fantasy Reader. The one that immediately comes to mind, even though I'm not at home right now, is a fragile green volume of Aristophanes' plays, which remains unsullied by these eyes, at least a decade after purchase.

The books on "display" (the ones in the lounge) are the ones I secretly hope people think I read, but many of them are unread gifts (by people who had obviously seen the others in the lounge) or belong to Nickname Pending. Or they are left over from the days when I thought you had to actually buy the books your lecturers recommended, and I'm too fond of the lecturer* involved to discard them. Some of them I've read, but not that many. I've come to the realisation in recent years that I'm just not good at reading non-fiction. Unless it's a Mitford-related biography of course.

As a sly nod to the books I truly love, which possibly reflect me most, there is a corner of the lounge dedicated to children's books I've collected. Some were mine when I was wee, most are more recent additions. I revel in the gorgeous picture books (Miss Spider, Lauren Child, and Lolly Leopold) and feel very attached to my boxed sets of Narnia (despite the dodginess obvious as an adult reader) and His Dark Materials. Tamora Pierce spins my wheels, and Harry Potter is separated by a good dozen other books from rival characters created by Diana Wynne Jones. Harder to find, but still prized, are the NZ kids books by Maurice Gee, Tessa Duder and even a copy of the Children of the Dog Star which you'd have to pay me an awful lot to part with.**

Away in the book room I stow my guilty secrets. Trinny and Susannah - tick. The Da Vinci Code - tick. Lots and lots of Heinlein - multiple ticks. Tanith Lee - more ticks than I care to reflect upon. There are some gems in there too, but safe to say they are pretty heavily outnumbered. I think I need ten worthy novels to make up for my possession of Jilly Cooper's Riders alone.

I worked in a bookstore (if you can count Whitcoulls as such) for five years. Although it often felt like a proper Marvin job I adored working with books. I loved talking to people about them, sharing with them the ones I enjoyed, and bitching companionably about the authors who weren't all that (John Grisham comes to mind). I used to fantasise as a younger adult about having my own book shop, but I think the grind would squeeze the joy out of it, as Whitters had begun to do.***

Instead now I like to just visit the books. I feel remarkably affectionate towards many of them, whereever they are. The old favourites I often reach out to and smile at on their shelves, as if they were puppies wagging their tails in delight at seeing me.

I suspect the puppy in this relationship is really me, and I'm pretty indiscriminate with my bookish love. And as long as they keep printing Marian Keyes, I'll keep reading her.

* 10 points to the commenter who can name this person. Not hard, I'll admit.
** Due to some mighty powerful synchronicity, amongst other things.
*** It was probably something to do with working in a bookstore with people who didn't read books. *shakes head dismally*


Apathy Jack said...

I found a copy of Pamela Anderson's Star at the Warehouse for two dollars fifty.

I feel no shame for any of the books in my collection - and I own Billie Piper's autobiography.

Make Tea Not War said...

I really didn't like Anybody Out There? which is the last Marion Keyes I read. It was so depressing & what made it worse is that I was expecting comedy. I couldn't finish it.

I'll probably read her next one but I'm not going to be rushing out to get the trade paper back the second it comes out.

Byron said...

I think I have Children of the Dog Star and a couple of Maurice Gee books around the house somewhere too!

Looking at my shelf right now I see the trade paperbacks of 'Preacher' by Gareth Enis and Steve Dillon, Michael Moores 'Dude Wheres my Country' An incredibly thick book on PC Hardware, The Selected Works of Lenin, Geroge Orwells 'Animal Farm' a book of collected essays titled 'The Anti-Capitalist reader' a couple of New Zealand history books and the odd one out; Divamrita Swami's 'Searching for Vedic India'

Span said...

In defence of Marian Keyes, I think she has got better with time, and I actually really liked Anybody Out There, but I can totally see why it wouldn't be so hot if you were expecting a lot of light hearted laughs. She has been becoming slowly less straight comedy and more sort of tragi-comic I think, which I like. Kiind of like how Terry Pratchett has evolved to take on some darker stuff too.

Billie Piper was much redeemed for me by her stint on the new Dr Who. Mind you, I always harboured a secret love of Honey to the Bee. I know no musical shame.