In 2004 Nick Hornby wrote a series of essays for Believer magazine. These essays were compiled together in a book titled The Polysyllabic Spree. The purpose of the essays was to discuss the amount of books he bought versus how many he read. Like most people who are avid readers the pile of books to be read grows over time while the books that have been read remains stagnant in comparison. Looking over Hornby’s list I have to say his problem is not as bad as mine. The only difference I can find between the two of us is that he might be buying his books new were as I find mine used at a greatly reduced price. If I was forced to buy books at the new price for a place like Barnes and Noble the odds are I wouldn’t read except for the library. I have a tendency to start reading a book, lose interest, and go onto something else. I my mind I tell myself I am still reading the other book but I’m taking a break, for whatever reason. This happens all the time. I have had people make comments about the number of books I have in a negative regard. I can think of worse things a person might spend their money on.
This week I bought 9 books and have read…0. That’s right none, nada, zip. While some might consider this stupid I look at it as a investment for my entertainment in the future. As a writer I should always be reading something. While some minimalist love to read from their kindles and tablets I still prefer the good old fashioned book. I don’t have to worry about the power going out. I can easily share the book with a friend after I am done with it. Used books still cost less than a kindle download most of the time. There are so many advantages to books I can’t see the point of not buying them or trading them for a kindle. That maybe weird to say since most of my book sales are as kindle downloads. The only disadvantage I can find with physical books is the space they take up.
I’m not going to bother listing all the books I bought this week. Attached at the end of this post will be a picture of the stack. The one book I was most interested in is called Mr. Adam by Pat Frank. The plot sounds like the origin story to Dr. Manhattan in the comic book/ movie Watchmen. Pat frank is also the author of the post apocalyptic novel Alas Babylon. I did little research on the author after reading Alas Babylon and had no idea that there were other works out there. Once I found Dr. Adam for a buck and recognized the author’s name I of course bought it having enjoyed his other work.
What I have read this month is: Infected by Scott Sigler, The Trip to Echo Spring by Olivia Laing. That is it. I can say that I have been writing and adjusting to my new work schedule. The few times I have sat down to read I almost feel guilty because I’m not writing instead. Maybe that sounds odd but it’s true. I have a schedule and I’m trying to stick to it. Lately I have been working a head of schedule with a fear that I will get behind. What still sounds weird and strange to me is accepting that if I am reading I am still working. After being at a job for 14 years that frowned upon people reading at the work place it is difficult to switch that kind of thinking and consider oneself productive during the act of reading. Its sad that our society has come to this.
So part of this blog will be to write about the books that I have either bought or read during this summer. Hopefully the list of books read will increase instead of the books I buy. I should probably start with Mr. Hornby’s book first and get a better idea of what I’m getting myself into.
Matthew Gilman can be contacted on his author Facebook page and found on Twitter.