Saturday, 18 December 2010

Replacing Life With Books

As I mentioned in one of my recent posts, my Mum says that you can waste your life reading books.

One should most certainly have their own adventures, but when you are a little burnt out or perhaps a little world weary and desperate for nurture, going on a book binge sounds like a pretty good idea to me.

Which is what I'm doing. I'm bingeing on books. I've been here just over a week and I've already finished three books and am now onto my fourth.

I desperately need to make up time. I bought books during my first two years in Manhattan like one buys drinks for friends, but I didn't have many friends so I, yes, bought books! Hundreds of books! It's too much. It costs too much to buy and it certainly costs to much to ship and the idea of shipping books around the world for the simple aim of READING them seems ludicrous to me. So, before my next journey (hopefully), I don't intend to bring them all with me. I intend to conquer them. To slaughter these writers words page by page, but lapping up the blood of their stories like a true admirer instead of just skim-reading like so many tired souls do.

They say that a book should break your heart as you read the last page, and so far, I'll admit, my heart hasn't really been broken but it certainly has been warmed by Payne, Green and Thompson and surely next by Zuzsak. I'm looking forward to living through these characters for a moment, because I am a little lost, and my next chapter is pinned to a cork board in so many scattered post-it notes.

I look back on how little I've read over the past 3 years (minus forgotten graphic novels and periodicals):

Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You by Peter Cameron

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

American Eve, Evelyn Nesbit, Stanford White, The Birth of the "It" Girl and the Crime of the Century by Paula Uruburu

Youth in Revolt and

Frisco Pigeon Mambo by C.D. Payne

The Iliad, Homer

Will Grayson, Will Grayson and

Paper Towns and

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (because I didn't know better)

The Walking Dead "Days Gone Bye" by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

and the only other novel that I recognize as having read out of the piles of new books sitting along the wall is Obernewtyn by Isobelle Carmody. A series I intended to follow but never did. Just seeing it there makes me sad, like a picture I never finished or a photograph of a moment that the memory cannot place.

So what do you do with the books you have read? Especially when you plan to one day only truly own and cherish enough to fit in nap sack (a goal, I know, that will never be realized but a nice goal to aim towards nonetheless, especially when you're tired of owning anything that won't matter when you desperately need the things that do)?

I don't know. Once I have noted any particular delights from The Walking Dead, Frisco Pigeon Mambo, The Iliad and Eat Pray Love, I can easily see myself feeling fine about donating these or giving them away (for I could not bare to ever throw a book in the trash).

I know I desperately want to give away The Tipping Point, for it reminds me of a life that I no longer want to be a part of, but I can't help but fear that I'll slip towards it again some day and need reminding of what works for that life... Fuck it, I can borrow it if I ever venture down those dark avenues again.

OK, out of the books I've listed I'm keeping four, but I'm not going to say which books because it's like Sophie's Choice. What, too dramatic? Never.

"This blog went no where!" a la Brian...


Chris in the Studio said...

Hi Caitlin,
I think I asked in a previous post what you were doing with all your books. I've been on a reading tear lately and I suppose I was secretly hoping you would store them with me. :) But glad to hear you did not leave them on the sidewalk.

I find the statement about owning only what you can fit in a nap sack very interesting. Very wise for the traveling adventurous spirit. In recent years I found myself completely bogged down by material possessions to the point of near spiritual paralysis. In the last 8 months I've sold nearly everything I own. It's been liberating. Enjoy your time with family and friends while you can Caitlin, I'm sure something will be comimg along soon to take you on to your next adventure what ever that may be.

sdafergu said...

I heard you can make good $$$ selling first editions of The Walking Dead through ebay. Too bad I destroyed/lost/gave away my copy .... :(

Anonymous said...

I consider 2 pastimes to never be a waste of one's time - One is travel and the other reading.

Even when you don't get what you expected, one tends to benefit from a broadened perspective over time.

Then again, I decided at your age that reading fiction was a waste of my time when there was thousands of non-fiction books to fill my mind with.

Thanks for the updates - Simon

Bilby P. Dalgyte said...

That is pretty much the healthiest way to binge. Ever. I wish I had books to binge on. My friends bookcase is starting to have things go missing when he's not around...

You know what you should do? Go round to random houses and give away the books you don't want wrapped in Christmas wrapping as surprise gifts to strangers. That's kinda what I'm doing this Christmas... as opposed to getting my family anything.

Madeline said...

I'm catching up on blogs I've not read in ages. And hardly ever comment on... but wanted to say:

WASTE YOUR LIFE READING A BOOK?! I dunno. I'm a little goofy in that I think it's perfectly acceptable to be swept away in your own dreamland, or that of someone else, on a regular basis. In fact, I spend more time in various dreamland's than I do in the "real" world. Every time I watch a movie or hear a song, it's exactly what I'm doing. Just because books take a little longer to get through...

I really like you. (in a non-creepy way... gah... why must internet be so creepy? we've met. it's okay. meh.)

I'm trying to be a minimalist and think living out of a nap sack or living in a Tumbleweed Tiny House would be preferable. I have lots of books. I've only read half of them. I'm going to spend this year reading all the ones I've not read, and disposing of the ones I don't like. The ones I do like, I occasionally thumb through, even if I haven't read them in full for a while.

taktin said...

Caitlin, after just realizing that Mad Men is not the same as and has no relation whatever to Mad TV... Does the show actually provide any insights into advertising, or is it mostly a soap? (Yeah, I'm a bit behind on television lately)