Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Just can't get enough, I just can't get enough

I just read a very entertaining article from the Chronicle of Higher Ed about a man and his books. I was horrified to find myself agreeing with almost everything he said. You see, I may work on the web, do a bit of blogging, love my new iBook and have been known to use nearly 300mb in downloads a day, my true love though is books. The older I get the worse it becomes.

Sometimes my interest may wane slightly, this is usually when I don't go to a bookshop every day. At the moment though I am in the full throes of a binge. Thankfully I live and work in an area blessed with decent bookshops. Usually the lack of bookshops doesn't stop me though, it only makes the challenge greater, the quest to find a bargain or something obscure and interesting more vital. For example, I once bought a book on darts by Leighton Rees (World Cup Singles Champion 1977, World Professional Champion 1978, Grand Masters Champion 1979) simply for one chapter that included:

His comments on the Japanese theory of Zen darts:
"With all respect to the Japs (sic) and their beliefs, in my opinion, most of that is absolute tripe"

His views on alcohol and darts:
"Although some purists insist otherwise, I maintain that alcohol is not incompatible with increased performance dart-play. It helps to steady you up. I find that a couple of pints prior to serious play is just right for me."

Proper preparation of equipment:
"Just before a match get yourself a drink to see you through, particularly if it is a clash over the 3001 or 1001 distance. If you run out of beer halfway through a match your game can go to pieces...Find a little corner to call your own where you know your beer, cigarettes and matches are. Then you can find them automatically without interrupting your concentration on the game."

Needless to say it's a gem of a book that only set me back one dollar. (I waited til the last day of a sale when everything in the shop was one buck. I'm a cunning and patient book buyer.)

Usually the books of interest to me run in phases. There are some things I will always look for: literature, lit crit and poetry. I had a severe phase of football book illness that still lingers and I will always check the sports section for gems like the Rees tome or Sam Fussell's Muscle: Confessions of an unlikely bodybuilder. (If you haven't read it you must. Story of Oxford nerd turning beefcake and his run-in with 'roids. Pure gold.)

Generally though most books are of interest, the only things I avoid are computer manuals and economics books. Can't ever see the day when either of those will spark the fire within. I believe they are two topics whose books hold no value whatsoever beyond the initial vocational worth to the first owner. Obviously their publishers know this - they cost a bomb.

Collecting books is a disease, I truly admit that. It is a very pleasant one however and can at least give the afflicted the feeling of knowledge and a connection to world that is fast receding into the distance.


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