I’ve probably mentioned it before, but I am a bookaholic. This habit means that I get up to things I probably shouldn’t, such as reading reviews for books I’ve never heard of, just because they are links at the end of the last book I finished on my Kindle.(Yes, I’m a book tart, I keep my Kindle by the side of my bed, on top of the pile of real books that I’ll probably have on-the-go at the same time).
And following links is a dangerous thing to do, because before you know it, you’ve discovered something else you just have to read (which I know is how the powers-that-be want us to react), and of course this can lead us off on all kinds of tangents.
But I love all that. Before the advent of the internet, I’d spend hours, quite literally hours in bookshops, browsing. Now, with the benefit of reviews and alternative suggestions and ‘people who also bought’, my horizons have widened, I’ve read about topics I didn’t even know existed before – and been happier for it.
I still spend hours in bookshops, as I said I’m a book reading tart, and I’ll grab my fix from any number of sources – charity shops are a guilty pleasure…
But I digress.
The thing is this, on my most recent link-fest, I managed somehow to discover Patrick Leigh Fermor’s A Time To Keep Silence and Susan Hill’s Howard’s End is on the Landing.
Spending time wandering around old ruined abbeys has undoubtedly given me a taste for understanding more about the monastic life, there is a sliver of me that yearns for silence and contemplation, so I decided I’d give Fermor’s book a go.
But at precisely the same time, I read the synopsis for Susan Hill’s book about the year she spent, not buying new books, but revisiting the ones on her shelves that she either hadn’t already read, or wanted to reread. And it was as if a giant violin string had gone twang in my head. Because I know that I have forty odd years worth of books living around me, a certain number of which I haven’t actually ever got around to reading and yet more that I keep telling myself I would like to go back and read again.
I wondered if I had the capacity to do the same thing – to spend a few months not buying anything new, but instead getting reacquainted with books I already own.
It would be quite a surprise if I could do it. I think I can say with hand on heart, I’ve never been more than a couple of weeks without buying something new to read in the last forty years. So, I’m thinking about this as a bookish challenge for the rest of 2013. It would certainly amaze the other half, but I don’t know what I’d be like to live with – would it be like going cold-turkey? Should I do it?
I haven’t made up my mind yet. I’ve ordered A Time To Keep Silence, so that might be the last new purchase of 2013 – or it might not.
In other news…
There’s a new post on Mists of Time about the small parish church of All Saints’, Clifton, Bedfordshire.
11 thoughts on “A bookish challenge…”
All l am going to say is snap 😉
Great minds and all that…
Missed this! I shall blame you for the fact that I just ordered the Susan Hill book. But with good reason, I think I may tackle your challenge too. I’ve often thought that the 100s of books in this house include many I haven’t read, let alone many I’d love to read again … I’m quite sure I could keep going for more than a year!
Well so far I’ve managed to avoid buying anything new and for me that is already some result – although I’m not convinced I can manage a month let alone a year – but so far so good. It would be encouraging to have a friend for support if you decide to do it.
I have just discovered your blog through Annie at Knitsofacto. I can so relate to your post! My husband and I are both book lovers, and our house is filled with crammed bookshelves. We are moving to a much smaller home next month and are having to scale down our collection. It is a painful process. One of the things I have noticed in going through our book collection is how many books there are I haven’t yet read. I have promised myself that once I get settled into our new house I am going to make a point of reading them rather than buying news ones. At least for the first few months!
I was pretty shocked at how many I hadn’t read too, I think I’m at my worst when I buy several books at the same time and then somehow a few get tidied up onto the shelf and forgotten. But I’m not at all sure how long I can go without a book buying fix – it will be a real test for me. Very happy indeed to meet you. x
i’m another who has followed the link from Annie’s blog and as a former librarian your post rang so many bells with me. I don’t but very many new books, but have a bad habit of borrowing lots from the library instead of reading some of my own i haven’t yet read. I do reread old favourites at times, but could do so much more of that if I weren’t constantly bringing home piles of others. Not sure I could manage a year, but a few months should be an achievable goal…..
Hello, it’s lovely to meet you and thank you for taking the time to comment. I agree – a year sounds impossible, but I’m hoping that if I tell myself I’ll do it for a few weeks, and keep telling myself the same, that I’ll at least manage a respectable time – I’m pretty sure I won’t run out of suitable reading in less than a year!
I forgot to say that I always read books I own when we’re in France, so I just need to continue the habit when we get back. 🙂
I read A Time for silence many years ago and it helped to kindle what is now a longstanding fascination with monastic life, both historical and current. I’ll be interested to hear what you think of it.