Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Book fear

How can you excuse the man who buys bookcases of expensive wood, and piling into them the works of unknown, worthless authors, goes yawning amongst his thousands of volumes? He knows their titles, their bindings, but nothing else. It is in the homes of the idlest men that you find the biggest libraries — range upon range of books, ceiling high. For nowadays a library is one of the essential fittings of a home, like a bathroom. You could forgive this if it were all due to a zeal for learning. But these libraries of the works of piety and genius are collected for mere show, to ornament the walls of the house.

This is Seneca, the Stoic philosopher and for a while trophy special adviser to Nero, which led inevitably to his being forced to commit suicide. Hmm… I feel I'm slipping into this category as I buy more books than I can read. They do, as someone once said, furnish a room. I have 13 of IKEA's cheapest, nastiest bookcases - I needed quantity, not quality, and my flat and office are now full to bursting, a testament to my appetite for junk food literature and magpie collection. Is there a purpose now? How many hours of reading time are left to me over the course of what I would hesitate to call 'a life'? Tempus fugit, you know. 

Books in today:
Alex Scarrow's Last Light and Afterlight; Warren Ellis's Supergod (clearly in an apocalyptic mood the day I ordered those); Chris Wooding's pirates-in-space sequel The Black Lung Captain, Niall Griffiths' Kelly + Victor because I couldn't find my original copy, and Lloyd Robson's bizarre and challenging bbboing! & associated weirdness. It's exactly that. And he typeset it himself, so maximum respect. 

Still, at least I'm not one of the several second-year students who have asked me whether they have to read the whole book. *Repeatedly bangs head on desk*

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