Saturday, February 19, 2011

I Have a Problem

As you can tell from my earlier post, I like to read. I don't think that reading is a dying art, though I think the way in which we read is changing. David L. Ulin has a great book on the subject, entitled The Lost Art of Reading. I highly recommend it. I, however, prefer to read the old fashioned way, sitting in my orchid greenhouse, dressed in my smoking jacket, a pipe at my elbow, occasionally gazing into my Victorian relecting orb.... I keep all my books to be read in a little pile at my side. And this is my problem. This pile continues to grow.

Currently residing in this pile is:

The Spooky Art, Norman Mailer
Sunshine, Robin McKinley
The Demon and the City, Liz Williams
City of Glass, Cassandra Clare
Ironside, Holly Black
The Horns of Ruin, Tim Akers
Matter, Iain M. Banks
Biomega, Vols. 4 & 5, Tsutomu Nihei
Wastelands (Anthology)

This doesn't even count the books currently living on my Nook:
The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian, Robert E. Howard
Elric: The Stealer of Souls, Michael Moorcock
The Kensai, Jon F. Merz
Darkfever, Karen Marie Moning
A Dreamer's Tales, Lord Dunsany
The Book of Wonder, Lord Dunsany
The Next 100 Years, George Friedman

Yes, I know the Nook was supposed to keep me from buying hardcopy books. First, as I stated in a previous post, the Nook lags woefully behind in keeping current with publications both old and new. I wouldn't have to buy these books in hardcopy if Barnes & Noble would helpfully provide these books in ePub format (by strong-arming publishers into providing them). Which leads me to my second reason for buying books that reside in meatspace, and my problem: I can't not buy a book when I come across it.

Here's what I mean. I walk along the aisles of my Barnes & Noble, and something pops out at me. I generally like to swing by the tables in the front of the store, because that's where the put books that either the store or the publishers want you to see. I'm a particular fan of the "Strange and Unexpected" table; it's the place where you'll find books like Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea, by Charles Seife (drat! Add another book to the "to be read" pile) and the history of salt. I also like the section where the staff recommends stuff. When I worked for Barnes & Noble, I took my suggestions seriously, and I always thrilled when I saw someone pick up a book I recommended. So when I see a book that strikes my fancy, I generally buy it. Immediately. Because I'm horrible about remembering things, even if I write them down.

I just know that if I don't get Atlas of Remote Islands, I will never get it. Then, I'll miss out on whatever drew me to the book in the first place. Even if I put the book on my wish list, I know I'll lose the fire for it. I'll go back and discover I didn't want the book after all. Or more likely, new books will demand my attention, and I'll buy those instead.

So you see, I have a problem. I like to read. Now, where's my velvet smoking jacket?

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