Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Monday, December 17, 2007

So Little Time

"When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes."

In July I ventured into a thrift store, my first in a long while, and discovered a treasure trove of books. I was delighted to find
'So Many Books, So Little Time', by Sara Nelson. Months earlier I had come very close to buying the book for full price. The concept looked immensely appealing: this editor chose 52 books to read, one for every week of the year and opted to write a review of each. They would not be ordinary book reviews, though. She planned to discuss the book in relation to what was happening in her life at the time of reading as well as describing such elements as where she picked up the material, where she was when she read it, and things of that nature.
I bought the book, as I said in July, for $1. I was elated. I am, though, an avid hoarder as much as a reader and I tend to squirrel things away if I anticipate their being gems.
So I did not select the book for reading until December, which was a long ardent wait indeed and a lifetime away from the scorch of a July afternoon. I was waiting until the first snow fell, until the day was grey and I could curl up with a book about books.
It is true what they say: anticipation is what makes life worthwhile. The myriad of possibilities, the Schrödinger's Cat idea that a book could simultaneously be all things wonderful and yet could equally be a disaster- lack of knowledge preventing you from knowing which it might be and in the meantime there remains the delectable taste of a potential good book. For that reason, I am both glad I kept it for half a year without opening it, and lamenting that I maintained high expectations of it for so long and verily wasted my time and shelf space.
In the first respect, I got excellent value for money: after all, I spent $1 and the pleasure lasted from July to December.
In the second, it might have been far better to know beforehand so that I could withhold my money; failing that, considering that I did buy it, I would not have
jammed it onto my bookshelf and considered it an 'item' when Spouse and I worked so hard to dispose of other possessions. Our space is so much more valuable than that and it seems sullied by the presence of a book I now loathe.
Short of writing a book review, suffice it to say that the book was not for me in the least. A literary collection about an editor's year of reading books ought not to contain, in my very humble opinion, disappointing comments about how she escapes to fashion boutiques when feeling frustrated and spends lashings of money on frivolous things. That being one reason of many, I simply do not think that sort of content has a place in the book I imagined. I sensed no deep love of books or reverence for reading and while I might be entirely wrong in my summing up of the writer, it remains the case that the book left me cold. Life is too short by far to read books that do not move a soul.
That being said, the experience summed up entirely my torment about whether 'tis better to know than to not know, to read or to not read. I loved the book enormously while the pages remained closed and the mystery was unsolved; while I could envision a book that would make one seem to smell the dust and the pine of bookshelves; while it was still a fabulously written collection of classic essays by a witty, articulate writer reminiscing about my favourite subject- books.
I suppose, then, I need never have bought the book at all, for imagination is all-powerful and keeps the possessions to a minimum.

No comments:

Please look around, explore my writing, leave a crumb:
I welcome comments and thoughts.