On books

As a writer, and a part-time reader I, like so many others, love books.

There’s nothing better than a second-hand book store, or the book shelf in a charity shop, and sometimes, best of all. Sales.

I recently went to a bookseller here in the UK called Waterstones, and was delighted to find that they had three tables full of books for sale. Some of them were half-price, some of them were £5, £3 and some of them… were a whopping £1.

The best time to look at books, is when you have nothing else on your agenda. I’m really lucky in some ways that right now the last thing I need to be doing for myself is setting outrageous goals. That’s for another day (isn’t everything) though.

I think I picked up pretty much every book. If they weren’t £1 I put them down again.(I don’t have money for books right now!) Some I put back down right away because they just didn’t appeal to me, others I glanced at the blurb and set them back down, and there were a select few where I did that test – you know the one. The one where you read a few paragraphs and you’re supposed to work out by the second page whether it’s something you could keep reading or not.

Exactly five times I ended up at the end of the first chapter before I realised that not only was this definitely a book I needed to buy, but I probably needed to forget everything I’d just read because I have a SYSTEM when it comes to books. It’s like this.

HERE is a picture of the books at my bedside. These are the books I am currently reading.

IMG_0153

and then there’s a huge pile of books in my to-read pile.

IMG_0154

There’s a bigger question going on in my head right now, and the war I have with myself over it, whenever I start to think about it is pretty inconclusive every time.

What do I do with my books when I’m done with them!?

In my future, or as I like to say to a lot of my friends. “When I grow up, I want to have a house with a library and study.” In my head I have this gorgeous, perfectly lit room, with tall, second-hand bookshelves, a really comfy reading chair, and an incredibly well organised desk with an iMac and a twirly chair underneath it.

Sod the rest of it. I want a functional kitchen and a living room with a television and perhaps a PS4 (or PS10, whatever they’re on by the time I can afford something to call mine.) It’s my desperate dream to be well enough known author to live on writing alone, whether it be through book sales or free-lance work or something, idk.

ANYWAY. The problem comes at a certain point. As well as reading, and books, and writing I love BookCrossing

I absolutely love the idea of book crossing. There’s something great about knowing that you can ‘release’ a book somewhere and that someone else might enjoy it just as much as you did. Whilst I was in Melbourne, book crossing was the platform by which I discovered an amazing author, Bevan McGuiness, and without it I wouldn’t know the world of the triumvirate and that’s such a sad notion.

There’s a problem here though – and maybe you’ve noticed it yourself.

If I release these books in the wild once I’ve read them – I won’t have anything left on my shelf by the time I get those great big book shelves. Yeah, there are some books I just can’t part with. Through experience I’ve learnt that parting with my graphic novels is just a little too heart breaking, and of course there are books that particular people have bought for me that I just cannot part with. I’m a fan of getting friends to scribble a little note in the front page of books, even if it’s just the date and who gifted it to me.

Perhaps I’ll just have to be super selective about the books that I give away, but then I keep coming back to the bigger problem. What’s going to end up on my bookshelves?! I’m not even sure who my literary collection would be for. I have no intentions of having children of my own, but of course that’s not to say I won’t be that awesome ‘Auntie’ Ollie with the awesome library in her weird little house?

When I’m rich and famous maybe I’ll just be able to buy every book I’ve ever wanted, but where’s the fun in a collection that hasn’t travelled the world with you, or been carefully put together over time?

Clearly, there are just too many difficult decisions to make in life!

Advertisements

Bookcrossing, Take 2

I’ve been a member of BookCrossing since 2009. I haven’t used it very frequently since first discovering it, but I blame that on being holed up in a City that isn’t quite as progressive as the places I’ve ended up on my adventures.

The general idea that books are to be shared and passed along is a wonderful notion – bookcrossing isn’t the only initiative that I’ve come across to promote the sharing of books, and I mentioned in another post of my love for the ‘Little Library‘ here in Melbourne. It’s on the corner of La Trobe and Swanston and if you get the chance I highly recommend that you check it out. People drop books off there by the cart load.

The shelves are frequently changing as people move, take, and replace books they find there and every time I visit there is always something new worth taking a look at.

I’ve heard a few people question these initiatives. Doesn’t it damage the traffic in book shops? How are the authors of these books going to be affected because their books are freely available in places like this all over the world?

My own experience has been pretty detrimental to any idea that I might read books for ‘free’. Anyone who knows me is aware of this amazing book I discovered whilst on my first trip to Melbourne. ‘The Awakening‘ by Bevan McGuiness was one of those random finds. It pains me to admit, that the only reason I chose this book over the hundreds of others, was the fact that it had been clearly labelled as a ‘BookCrossing‘ book!

I later met the very man who had gone to trouble of labelling and ‘freeing’ it, and was amused to find out that he’d been given a stack of books from a friend and it was a part of that bundle. (Random chains of events like that are like candy to me! I love it.)

After I read this book I went on a wild goose chase across Melbourne in the pursuit of the next in the series. Every shop I went to told me that they didn’t have it in store, and the ones who stocked ‘new’ books told me they hadn’t had any copies of any of the trilogy in since 2008! It took me a while before I finally checked the last store on my list, and there I put down a payment for it’s deposit.

One book sold. Not just that, but a book that no one else seemed to have in stock. It’s got Bevan’s e-mail address typed out in the front pages and I’m sorely tempted to tell him about the brief saga, but I think it needs noting that had I not picked up The Awakening, I wouldn’t have even considered buying the second (and once I’ve finished it, I’m sure I’ll get the third.)

There’s something else about the Little Library that both amuses me, and frustrates my wallet.

The number of books I’ve come across and picked to read later which turn out to be, not the first in a series, but often the second or third. The Hunger Games is a popular series that I know I’ve ‘needed’ to read for quite a while now. Since being on the special look out for the first book in the series at the Little Library I’ve been teased horribly by not one, but two copies of Catching Fire. It’s a shame that I have to admit my ignorance of the series because at first I believed I had in my hands the first book in the series. :(

I also grabbed a book called ‘Shadow’s Lure‘ by Jon Sprunk, which is the second in a series, AND even more frustratingly came across A Darkness at Sethanon by Raymond E Feist that I picked up because I’ve been told time and time again that I need to read something of his… to learn that it wasn’t the second, but THIRD title in a trilogy was most disappointing. It left me with an troublesome decision to make.

Do I hang onto the books and try not to feel guilty about holding them back from people who might need to have that next title in a series, whilst I buy the titles that I need and then release them together once I’m done? Or do I put them back, stare sadly at them and hope by some miracle they’re still there when I’ve bought and read the others?

Either way. I’m spending money I probably wouldn’t have spent on them, and in a lot of ways, supporting authors I very likely never would have considered before.

No matter which way I look at it, I’ll still try to promote bookcrossing, and the Little Library as best I can. I love the idea, I love the people I’ve met, and I love the books I’ve read. What could be better?

Bookcrossing, Take One

Dearest Readers,

Usually, when I start a blog – I spend so much time trying to work out how to introduce it that I get lost in the complexities of all the things I might need to explain.

It’s just a blog, for crying out loud.

I’m here to tell you about the things I did today.

There was just one main mission – get to the Melbourne CBD Bookcrossing Meet at 11am. I didn’t really know what to expect, but after three people PMed me on the bookcrossing website about it, I felt compelled to at least give it a go.

Bookcrossing is something I’ve been trying to ‘do’ for years now, (Since 2009) but out here, it’s been my first real chance to get to grips with it.

There’s an amazing place in Mebourne Central, and if you haven’t checked it out you REALLY need to. It’s called the Little Library and it is home to so many books that are clearly on a journey from one place to another. I’ve been at least once a week since I got back to Melbourne and every time I either find something new, or something I missed last time I looked.

It is well worth a look, with different titles dropping in almost constantly there will be something you didn’t know you were looking for. Recently, I discovered The Awakening, by Bevan McGuiness . I used to think I was really picky about books but I just like weird books. Fantasy/SciFi or generally things that make you think.

Anyway. Whilst I was on my way to a BookCrossing meet across the CBD, I not only met a random stranger on the tram (who I intended to visit the Cat Cafe with!) but I also feel that I managed to make some very interesting new acquaintances. We talked, mostly about where I’d been and what I do and my BookCrossing history, but it was so nice to be around other people who took an interest in books, and not just that – but setting them free into the wild to be read by others.

When I came away from the little meeting I felt like I had a renewed love for the idea of BookCrossing. I’d love to see it grow in popularity. The concept is fantastic, and the joy of having a book you realised ‘caught’ and documented by someone else is an exciting feeling!

The list of things I want to do threatens to increase every day, but BookCrossing is definitely one of those things I feel committed to.

Yours bookishly,

Ollie.