Monday, April 11, 2011

On frailty

As previously noted, I own many books.  Many books.  This has been made abundantly clear to me by removalists, friends, visitors, and even - in what must surely be an exemplar of the pot calling the kettle black - my own Aged Mother.  Nevertheless, when I hear about a discount book sale I go rushing headlong to buy more.

I do this even though it would actually be cheaper to buy books online from places like abebooks in the UK, especially with the Australian dollar as strong as it is.  But I don't buy books online because I am inept at the key step of figuring out what I want to actually acquire.  Hence bookshops.  It's great to walk in and be immersed in walls of books, a paperback prison that frees rather than constrains.  It's not until I look at ten shelves of books on ancient history that I suddenly realize that my life hitherto has been incomplete because I lack a comprehensive knowledge of the campaigns of Scipio Africanus.  That's the kind of insight that you just can't get online.

Little did I know that this is merely the tip of the iceberg.

Yesterday my Smaller Half, the Hatchling and I went to the big sale at Borders in the city, which is going into administration due to bogus management.  20-40% off everything in store.  We split up and agreed to meet back in half an hour.  I was super restrained and only got two books: some stories by Jorge Luis Borges (whose name I mention here primarily because I don't know how to pronounce it and hence will never be able to use verbally) and a book by Jon Krakauer called Into Thin Air, both of which I have been coveting for some time and merely needed a tiny knock such as a 20% discount to crystalize the purchasing impulse in my mind.

My Smaller Half failed to arrive at the designated rendezvous point so I went searching for her.  With a dark sense of foreboding I made my way to the only possible place she could be - the children's books section.  Forty five minutes later I was only able to crowbar her away from there by surreptitiously provoking the Hatchling into a tantrum and announcing that it really was time to leave.  We had to leave the store with me carrying the Hatchling and the pram piled high with new kids books.  In a stroke our book-buying tendencies have multiplied.

Mind you, we got some absolute crackers.  Several Richard Scarry books, an incredible pop-up book that I probably would have bought for myself anyway, a set of Beatrix Potter books, some cute little fairytale books, and more.  And more.  And more.

Buying kids books makes me feel simultaneously old and young.  I tend to buy the books that I remember from my own childhood.  Partly it's selfish nostalgia (literally "the pain of homecoming") but also partly the sincere belief that if I know I'll enjoy the books that I'll read to the Hatchling then I'm more likely to read to her.  Reading books such as "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" again takes me right back to my childhood, when I would flip the pages back and forth looking at how the holes in the fruit line up - amazing!  What makes me feel old is when I try to poke my fingers through those holes and they are now too large to fit.

Hopefully I don't have acromegaly.


Vonbon said...

Long time reader, first time poste- err... No, I guess I"ve commented a few times before.

Just wanted to say that I love Richard Scarry.

That is all.

PTR said...

I think it's fair to say that Richard Scarry made me the man I am today.

Anonymous said...

Your blog made me reminisce too.. about Dr S(Cat in the Hat, green eggs and ham, old hat new hat), Enid Blyton and the magic faraway tree, a book about a hairy scottish dog, little golden books in general, twas the night before christmas, the magic pudding, snugglepot and cupplepie. All memories of faraway escape places in the imagination, where anything is possible..

PTR said...

When I read your comment I thought you'd mentioned the Scat In The Hat. What kind book is that for a kid???

Anonymous said...


The Scat in the Hat - wasn't that a series of Manga nasty cartoons?

I'm still recovering from reading "The Cat with the Fat"