Thursday, November 10, 2005

On reading

I wrote this on a Wednesday but didnt get to post it till today (Friday)

Sometimes when there's nothing to do I like to browse Powell's staff picks and best ofs.

That's what I was doing yesterday evening during the two hours when nothing's come through to our side yet - the previous two days I was working on summaries so I actually did have stuff to do during those two hours and only managed in between to do the usual online rubbish of reading blogs, chatting, checking email, reading the NYT/Guardian/London Times etc.

Anyway I was looking at the Powell's staff picks for 2004 and realised that 2005 is ending. But yeah I know I've said that before. The clincher to this statement is 2005 is ending and I've still not read these "best ofs" of 2004.

How the hell does one read till the reading's done?

There are just tons of books out there, (I think in Nick Hornby's Polysyllabic Spree, he learns that it would take about seven years just to read a list of all the books that have ever been written) publishers are churning them out the very instant your eyes are glazing over my typed out words, writers are furiously typing out the last sentences of their novels as I type out my words to this sad blog.

Slow down people!! Slow down! I can't keep up! I'm already doing my best with 7 books in 3 weeks - at least I'm trying to.

And I finally got a notice from the library that I can pick up a book I'd reserved more than a few weeks ago, and which I'd totally forgotten about. I suppose that might be my fault. Or the library's. I didn't expect that one to take so long, if I'd remembered it, I might've not been as greedy as I was and gobbled up all those books. Then again, how can I resist when I find all these books? Plus I already had to stop myself from taking up one of the TC Boyle books I found.

Sigh... I would love to take a month off and read as many books as possible. But I'm not very good at just sitting and reading. Maybe it's ADD or something, it's just hard to sit still and concentrate. I'll have something on my mind and pop off the chair to go do it, then I'd decide to listen to something and pop up again to go play it, then I'd decide to go check my email, watch TV, find something to eat. It's quite a wonder that I manage to read anything at all.

I think the only times I do some quality concentrated reading are:
- when I'm on public transport, especially on the bus (cos I hardly take the mrt)
- the half hr to one hr before I fall asleep
- the half hr to 45 min I lounge by the pool after doing some laps
- my occasional visits to ProjectShop for a coffee and a read on my offdays
- while waiting to catch the next bus home, after being given the ok by the boss, which means there's no more work left
- the occasional breaks I take at the resource centre - but that's for reading magazines
- on airplanes (altho depending on the movies showing)
- by the beach (altho depending on the scenery and how harsh the sunlight is)

So I've got those 6? books from the library, and I've got so many more I've bought (including two last month) that I've not yet touched. I'm still in the midst of reading the Iris Murdoch biography by her husband. And then there's that book by some Spin writer I can't remember the name of now waiting for me at the Orchard library, waiting to be taken home and taken care of.

Despite all this, I'm already making a mental list of books to buy during the bookstore sales, which will probably happen next month - just in time for Christmas. You know, like last year's sale at Borders where the more you bought, the bigger the discount, and which of course I took advantage of - on two separate occasions.

I tend to want to own books that I've borrowed and loved, although technically, since they've been read, I really should move on to something else. But I can't help it. I just like to own books.

I want to read more Oscar Wilde. I'd also like to complete my Thursday Next collection with the second book in the series - which I can't remember the name of and which I now can't check online for cos there's a problem with my Internet connection (but think I'll leave Fforde's The Big Over Easy off the to-buy list for now). I'm thinking of getting Bill Granger's cookbook. Martin Amis' Money and more.

I've also got tons more CDs I want to get. And this is despite the fact that I owe mej money for the last batch of CDs, which I'm getting from him on Thursday. Yay! Finally! The agonising long wait is OVER!

But how now? I want somemore...

I think it was in The Picture of Dorian Gray where Lord Henry (check) said sthg along the lines of that these are times where the only necessities are the unnecessary. How sadly true.
(Forgive me if i've totally misread/misremembered how it goes. I read it, and then remembered it and flipped backwards to try to find it. I couldn't. I could've read it all over again just to find the quote but I've got 5? more books to read before the library-imposed deadline.)

There's so much I don't need but I want to have.
It's all about possession and ownership.
I like library books for the simple fact that I can read them for free - except of course, for those reserved, but that's a mere $1.55. But what I don't like is the idea that many others have gone through these pages before me. Some of the books have obviously been well-loved by too many. Others you just can't seem to find on the shelves and have to resort to reserving. So books are best bought and cherished. I wish I could do that with every book I fell in love with, but I'd be a pauper.

Music you can still borrow from friends and pop into the ipod. Music you can still sample online - you could do the same for books, but those are usually first chapters and what's the point in that.

Books... I don't like to borrow others' books. I feel like I hang onto them for too long, that I might crease the spine or accidentally dogear a page. I guess in the same way I am reluctant to lend people mine.

People have been talking about digital books for the longest time.

I've gotten used to reading online news already, and blogs. But I don't think I'd have the patience to read a book off a screen, no matter how lovely the screen and how portable the device. I like paper, I like the look of type on paper. I like the feel of paper. I like the weight of a book in my hand. I like that I don't have to charge it or power it up. I like that it doesn't make noises except for the turning of the page. I like that it doesn't have little lights blinking away. I like that books haven't really changed for many many years and they don't need to be updated or screened for viruses or anything like that.

I know this has been a terribly long post, but it's been a relatively concentrated one - it's amazingly unfettered when there's no Internet to distract.

1 comment:

caedmon said...

i love this post :) enjoyed your writing shar! amazed that you actually read soooooo much too :)