Monday 16 February 2015

We Are Our Book Shelves

'If you don't have time to read 
you don't have time (or tools) to write.'
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

The Year of Reading Dangerously by Andy Miller gives a great insight into the reading practice of a writer who writes about it. The title The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books (and Two Not-So-Great Ones) Saved My Life tells the tale.

Andy Miller, in his late thirties, in an effort to reclaim his identity as a reader (in something akin to a pre-mid-life crisis), decides to go on a journey of self-betterment by reading 50 books in a year.

I loved the idea immediately, not surprising considering my own challenge which I've set myself to explore my life and learning in 52 quotes over a year. However what it reminded me of mostly, was my 25th birthday. I remember at the ripe old age of 24, when my daughter was a toddler, being ashamed of how little I'd read since school and feeling a sense of disappointment in myself for not being the kind of reader I wanted to be.

On my 25th birthday my partner gave me 25 books. They were mostly secondhand, as we had little money but every single one had a slip of paper in it to tell me why it was chosen. There were old classics, some were books I said I wanted to read and others were ones which were books 'one should read'.  I can't remember if I read them all but I still open a book now and then and find one of those slips of paper reminding me of one of the best presents I've ever got.

 “As Schopenhauer noted a hundred and fifty years ago, 
‘It would be a good thing to buy books if one could also buy the time to read them; but one usually confuses the purchase of books with the acquisition of their contents.” 
Andy Miller 

I think of all the books I have either got as presents or bought and which still sit, unread on my bookshelf. I think I can at least try to find all the books on my 25th birthday list and check I've read them. I wonder if my life would have been any different, like Miller's, if I had.

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