The Problem Of Books

I went to Waterstones in Liverpool last week with a good friend of mine, who really understands these things, and bought a good dozen novels (or should that be a dozen good novels?), Modernist and, well, plain modern (Jasper Fforde – whose books should be read by all book lovers). They’re still on my desk. I have nowhere to put them – the shelves are full to bursting and the top of the set of bookshelves in my room is covered with box files labelled with such terms as “City Administration”, “Arch. Plans”, “Grain” etc.). I am also starting to let this buying thing get out of hand – so after my binge of Monday evening I swore never to do it again resolved that, as a penance, I am going to do ten Good Works: in other words, I will read them all before I set foot in another bookshop (incidentally, the night after I made this resolution I dreamed I went into Oxfam, bought an armful of books and then, gripping my head in horror, screamed, “But my PROMISE!” – “Catholic” guilt clearly at work).

The list is rather fun: thus far I have read the first Daisy Dalrymple (my review, were I to write one, would read, “Engaging characters and good period detail,” but wouldn’t add much else, I’m afraid); and a short collection of Orwell essays, entitled Books Vs. Cigarettes. The latter was exceedingly good, but rather than writing a straight review, I have thought up a more amusing tribute – well, amusing to me, at least – which is to take at least some of these essays and, in a manner of speaking, update them and see if his arguments stand up in the 21st century. I shall be doing this over a few months, I expect, but look out for the first in a week or so’s time.

Next on the list is E.M. Forster’s The Machine Stops, a very slim Modernist sci-fi. I look forward to it.

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