Thursday, 4th March 2004

From the archive: Books, books, and more books

From 2002 to 2004 I had a blog called iliveonyourvisits.com - it petered out when we bought a house and the real world started to eat up any time I had to work on it. It was a useful learning experience in many ways. Like most blogs from that time it was also completely self-indulgent, a verdict that was underlined by reading all the entries again a little while ago to see if I could resurrect any of them. What follows is the least worst entry of them all. Rest in peace, old blog.

Are you a spine breaker?

Hmm. It depends on the kind of book you’re talking about. If it’s a novel or non-fiction paperback, I do try and keep the spine as pristine as possible. Sometimes it seems that the spine is weaker where they’ve included a section of photographs (I prefer it when they’re called ‘plates’) and you’ll get a line there. It could just be that I look at the pictures more often.

For textbooks, computer books, reference books, I will break the spine with no guilt whatsoever. I just want the bugger to stay flat while I type in the code or make notes, and will always wish that the publishing house could have wiro-bound or otherwise thought about how the book was, y’know, going to be referred to.

Underliner?

Underliners are, not to put too fine a point on it, scum. And most of the time, going by what they underline, seem to miss the author’s point completely.

Page folder-overer?

Yes. You might think this is bad, but bookmarks fall out, and I can’t always be bothered to stop reading at the end of a chapter (and I will forget where I’m up to). Folding over the page to mark your place will leave a little marker of how much you’ve read in one go, like tree rings.

New or second-hand?

Both. Though I do like the rough feel of old, oxidised paper, sometimes the print is so bad it’s not worth 50p. I won’t just buy something because it’s old and cheap, unless it’s old and interesting and cheap (pick two, usually…).

Hardback or softcover?

Hardbacks are books that you look at in your bookshelf and say ‘that’s a really beautiful book. I’m so glad I own that book’. Softcovers are books that actually get read: on the train, in the bus, waiting, at your desk.

How do you choose what books to buy/read?

They seem to choose me. There are books that I know I have to read as soon as I hear about them, and others that just seem to jump into my hand at the shop/library. I know I really like a book when I start reading it everywhere, and can’t wait to get to the end (then I’m disappointed when the pages in my right hand get thinner and thinner until there’s just one left).

Do you have unread books in your ‘library’?

Yes. Some I’ve started, some I’ve dipped into, and others that haven’t even been opened. But then I’ve got books I’ve read over and over again, books that meant little to me when I bought them, and I’ve finally read and enjoyed: I’d start to get worried if my tastes never changed.

Do you get upset if you know you’ve got to eat lunch, or get home on the train and there’s nothing to read?

Yes. Twitchy. I will read anything in that state. Management magazines. the Daily Telegraph. The person next to me’s Metro. It’s a terrible condition I have.