On books

There was a time when I really did love books — loved the sight and smell and feel of them, I mean, at least if they were fifty or more years old. Nothing pleased me quite so much as to buy a job lot of them for a shilling at a country auction. There is a peculiar flavour about the battered unexpected books you pick up in that kind of collection: minor eighteenth-century poets, out-of-date gazeteers, odd volumes of forgotten novels, bound numbers of ladies’ magazines of the sixties. For casual reading — in your bath, for instance, or late at night when you are too tired to go to bed, or in the odd quarter of an hour before lunch — there is nothing to touch a back number of the Girl’s Own Paper. But as soon as I went to work in the bookshop I stopped buying books. Seen in the mass, five or ten thousand at a time, books were boring and even slightly sickening. Nowadays I do buy one occasionally, but only if it is a book that I want to read and can’t borrow, and I never buy junk. The sweet smell of decaying paper appeals to me no longer. It is too closely associated in my mind with paranoiac customers and dead bluebottles.

George Orwell – Essays – Bookshop memories

This is quite a nice idea.

I think Orwell -with this idea in mind- would have loved ebooks so much.

As for me, I started recently getting more comfortable with ebooks, mostly pdf’s , but I bought a couple of ebooks from Amazon and I found the experience interesting. That is not to say that I will move completely to soft copies. I still feel a bit weird paying for a full price while there is no hard copy in my hands.

On another note, I want to pay close attention to my book shelves. I started already screening them and taking out books that I won’t be interested in reading and put them for giveaways. My brother was so surprised with this new idea! I think for him this doesn’t make sense. Masha Allah he has an enviable library. Maybe one day he’ll need the assisstance of a librarian to make a catalogue with indexes and everything.

When I get back to Cairo I need to reassess my collection. Some of these books will just gather dust and occupy space while its importance for me is close to zero.

2 responses to “On books

  1. Liked your post. Yet while reading it I couldn’t
    stop thinking of a novel that talks about dead books, or rather a cemetery of forgotten books. Check it out, it’s called “The Shadow of the Wind” you might like it.

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