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On Buying Books

02 Apr

As I stood – as one is inclined to do – in a bookshop, one of my fellow browsers was accosted by her other half or friend who says “so, you’re buying a book then?” which is a strange statement to make in a shop that exclusively sells books but there you go.  I wanted to storm over and tell him that actually she was making an investment which is much better than doing the same on the stock market.  I didn’t of course because I am polite and I was watching the pennies so had to leave before I bought half the shop’s stock.

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As far as our education system goes, it rightly has its critics in plenty of areas but for all its flaws, it does give the gift of learning to read for pleasure and enlightenment. Broadening knowledge and exploring stores from brilliant writers who challenge concepts, introduce unfamiliar words and work in metaphor and hidden messages makes for a really rich and rewarding written landscape.  I find that I grow more through the medium of books than from anything else.

I don’t often bother reviewing my own reading habits as they are mine and are always at the forefront of my mind, yet taking a step back I noticed that the more widely I read, the more scope I have for new purchases, that in turn pushes other things out, recently it has been children’s books and graphic novels which I shall be making more of an effort to get back into.

The only area of books that is less than thrilling to me these days and I don’t mind curtailing are bestsellers.  Apart from the apathy I fee for the publishers buying space in shops to promote these books, it is rare I find one that is worthy of not only a reread but bothering to finish the first time.  There has been a few like The Book Thief, The Snow Child and The Night Circus (of which the circusy bits are great) that come to mind but other than that, many can’t hold my interest any longer.

Reading has shown me many wonders and as reading begets reading, then I wholeheartedly encourage everybody to push out of their comfort zone and pick up something new.  One genre or type of book can only do so much for any reader and as a fairly widely read chap, I can tell you there is so much out there to admire and be amazed at.  I’m not being a book snob by saying this, it is my experience of reading and if you step out and take a punt you will be surprised.

I wrote the above in a fairly expensive pub – it is quiet though on account of the price I imagine so I like to think I am paying for the peace –  which explains why it is a little all over the place and as some of you know I do go out occasionally to have a pint or two (if I am frittering away money) as I do find I am more incisive at reviewing that way.  I am convinced (probably erroneously) that my more interesting phrases are strung together better when out and about, I like to think that my insight is better lubricated so if you see anything you like, just remember my insides more than likely paid for your gift of appreciation.

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53 Comments

Posted by on 02/04/2016 in Blogging, Life

 

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53 responses to “On Buying Books

  1. Morgan

    02/04/2016 at 19:34

    go ahead, lay on the guilt. we don’t mind ;P Still, interesting turns of phrase often do find their way to paper (or the electronic form thereof) when inhibitions are toned down by a frosty beverage of some sort 😉

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    • Ste J

      02/04/2016 at 21:35

      Haha, sorry, I just can’t help it! I do think there is something to be said for the odd drink, I tend to go out once a week and do this, sometimes my words are sparse though but a lot of book usually gets read at the very least.

      Liked by 1 person

       
  2. Jill Weatherholt

    02/04/2016 at 21:05

    That bookshop looks amazing, Ste J. I think I’d spend hours browsing.

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    • Ste J

      02/04/2016 at 21:32

      I try and get there at least once a week, there are plenty of chairs to sit down on as well which cheers me as I do get a bit of shaky leg syndrome from the excitement.

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  3. Seyi sandra

    02/04/2016 at 21:40

    I love bookshops, just browsing feels me with something akin to euphoria. Great post old friend!

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    • Ste J

      02/04/2016 at 21:46

      It’s impossible not to find loads of great stuff as well, there are so many wonderful books, old kid’s hardbacks with the dust covers, essays from Lord Macaulay and such, it is a vert heady atmosphere with the old book smell and so so much choice. It is bliss!

      Liked by 1 person

       
  4. Resa

    02/04/2016 at 22:11

    I wonder if your home looks like a bookstore?
    I saw a piece on Cuba last week. As you know, Obama is trying to get things thawed out with the USA/Cuba relations, and this was a bit of a promo piece.
    The most fascinating part, for me, was a visit to Ernest Hemingway’s home. As Cuba’s buildings have been deteriorating from time without money, Hemingway’s home has been the most preserved part of Cuba’s past.
    He was having breakfast or so when he had to flee. His coffee cup, everything is where he left it. As many people fleeing for Florida at that moment, he thought he’d be back shortly.
    It’s a wonderful tropical/Florida type home & the TV tour took us room to room to room. Every room’s walls are lined with short bookcases…4 – 5 shelves – waist to chest high. Each case was filled with books, books & more books. It seemed to me the walls’ foundations were all books. As I wondered, did he read all of those books, the narrator said that Hemingway had read each of those book at least once.
    Finally, we were in the doorway of the last room, where the narrator announced…. and here’s his library! I burst out laughing. Could anyone ever love books as much as this?
    Well, you came to mind.
    Read on Ste j, read on!

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    • Ste J

      03/04/2016 at 09:39

      Hem’s home is awesome, whenever I see a library, be it real or imagined I aspire to it, I love the uniformity but also the chaos to the uninitiated. I wish I had read all the books I own but I can’t help but pick more up when I go out. I was thinking of changing the title of my blog to BookLust but didn’t want to lose my search engine rankings or whatnot. I finished two books yesterday and will be starting a new one this afternoon, as to what it could be, I have too much choice to guess at that yet.

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  5. Maniparna Sengupta Majumder

    02/04/2016 at 22:12

    Bookstores- I can spend hours there. But, yes, it’s important to come out of the comfort zone ( genre) in the case of reading. You do that often, as is evident from your reviews. I need to do that..of late, I’ve grown a tendency of browsing only through my favourite genres… :/

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    • Ste J

      03/04/2016 at 09:25

      I don’t think I have a comfort zone these days now that I juggle all the genres as much as possible. It is easy to get trapped up in what we love so hopefully I can come up with a review that will intrigue enough to break the cycle.

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  6. gargoylebruce

    03/04/2016 at 00:58

    I don’t know why anyone bothers to buy best sellers. The library always has a thousand copies in the days of their immediate release, so you never have to wait long on the hold list if you’re into that kind of thing. If you’re going to delve Into reasonably tedious, bland literature, why pay an exorbitant price, I reckon.

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    • Ste J

      03/04/2016 at 09:12

      That is a good point which I forgot about, not going to the library or ‘computer room’ as it increasingly is becoming. There are always some exceptions to the bestseller list of course, I am usually fairly happy to take a punt on the latest Stephen King but overall my eyes just glaze over when I walk past stuff like that.

      Liked by 1 person

       
  7. Jess D. Harpley

    03/04/2016 at 04:32

    That’s really sad that a significant other would berate someone for buying a book =\

    You’re always so insightful, and in touch with much more than most other humans notice. I should probably wander into a bookstore someday soon…

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    • Ste J

      03/04/2016 at 09:28

      It was either a mild berating or somebody who didn’t connect the word bookshop with books which isn’t all that hard to believe with e-readers and such, it’s a sad state of affairs.

      I like to look at things and then think about them to the Nth degree, it is something I have been doing for a few years, I like the little details, they seem much more colourful than the hole.

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  8. renxkyoko

    03/04/2016 at 05:32

    It’s apity that bookshops nearby have closed shop. The only bookshop left is the one at the mall, Barnes and Nobles. Although I haven’t been reading books for a long time, I’m sure I’ll come back to reading soon. I just need that magical momentum, SteJ. I always had a book in my bag, it was my security blanket, now, it’s my iPhone.

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    • Ste J

      03/04/2016 at 09:22

      It is horrible that all the independent shops who have all those obscure books that people love to discover have closed down. All you need is that one book that brings you back to reading and you’ll be Miss Voracious again. I try to leave my phone off whenever I can these days, I miss the peace and quiet of being left alone sometimes, I don’t want to be reachable all the time.

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  9. Alastair Savage

    03/04/2016 at 09:49

    I wouldn’t worry about frittering away money. I always think that if we don’t spend it, someone else will. I get jealous of your life as a bibulous bibliophile in Mansfield, which is how you partially inspired my flash fiction short story ‘As the world turns’!

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    • Ste J

      03/04/2016 at 09:54

      I like to do my bit for the economy! Being jealous of me in Mansfield, never thought that would be an actual phrase before, although bibulous may be a bit strong, lol, you guys enable me that is my excuse and I am sticking to it. It is an honour to inspire, I shall carry on doing the same in case Hollywood buys the rights then I am already in character if Richard Gere is not available to play me.

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      • Alastair Savage

        03/04/2016 at 10:30

        Gere’s too old! You should go for Cumberbatch, if he’s free.

        Liked by 1 person

         
        • Ste J

          03/04/2016 at 10:44

          Nice choice, anybody other than Charles Hawtrey would do really.

          Liked by 1 person

           
          • Lucy

            04/04/2016 at 07:31

            Ah, damn! If only Charles Hawtrey hadn’t been dead for probably a few decades, we could have seen where that went, with possibly hilarious scenes at the football.
            Anyway, your post was hypnotic, and has told me I need to buy more books today, staggering towards the shops muttering ‘books’ in a way that others might say ‘brains’.

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            • Ste J

              04/04/2016 at 15:22

              I bet you have better table manners than the brains lot. Books are great, I wish I could think of some sot of site in ehich I could put my opinions and photos of them up…

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  10. shadowoperator

    03/04/2016 at 17:56

    Hey, Ste J! You go along and do as you choose about book-buying and brew-guzzling, I’m always at your back, because I like reading the resulting posts. I think the conversation you overheard was taking place between a passive-aggressive non-book-lover, who in fact already knew that his gal was buying a book, but was registering his disapproval in that funny manner, and someone (her) who like you loves books. Why she brought him along is the real puzzle. But I myself cannot read a new book just now, because I am trying to finish up my yearly (or bi-yearly, sometimes) re-reading of “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings.” I’m very annoyed, because I was on the library website trying to finish up “The Return of the King,” which was at a dramatic point, when the page skipped a beat and got stuck somehow with only half of each page, left and right, showing. I was very upset, because the only way to get it to stop was to return it, and now I’ve had to go back on the waiting list. I’ve heard people say that Tolkien is ethnocentric and sexist, and I think in some small measure these charges are true, but he was a man of his time, and I think that if you follow his insistence that the stories are NOT allegorical or topical, you appreciate him better. Anyway, I hope to get back to reading as reviewing, as I always say, sometime before the summer. That’s my plan, anyway. You’re holding up your end quite nicely, what with all the posts and all.

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    • Ste J

      04/04/2016 at 15:44

      I picked up Waiting for Godot, amongst others whilst in this shop so it is thanks to you that this post sprouted wings, that and some pints. That’s well annoying about the LotR however in the meantime you could reach out to The Silmarillion if that is available, which is an epic read as you probably already know. Tolkien wasn’t a fan of writing about women which in the sort of world it is can be forgiven. Better to have a few strong women than go over the top like Game of Thrones where everyone seems powerful and the effect is, to my eyes at any rate lessened in the context of the world. I look forward to you getting back into the blogging and in the meantime I have a shedload more diverse books with which to amuse you.

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      • shadowoperator

        04/04/2016 at 15:56

        I have a book recommendation for a YA book called “Inkspell.” You aren’t the one who recommended it to me by any chance, are you? And if you are (or have already read it), can you remind or tell me if it’s worth the trouble or not? Memory is not perfect these days, and I can’t recall where I heard of it.

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        • Ste J

          04/04/2016 at 15:58

          I have neither read it or recommended it, I used to see it all the time when I was up in Wigan but since those days I haven’t noticed it…it used to have a vibrant purple cover, so if I am judging the book by the cover…

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  11. Jilanne Hoffmann

    04/04/2016 at 07:55

    Oh, how I love those bookshelves!

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    • Ste J

      04/04/2016 at 15:12

      You see that as soon as you walk in the door, even the non book buyer can’t fail to be moved by it.

      Liked by 1 person

       
  12. Liz

    04/04/2016 at 10:08

    I love this post, not least for all the comments it has inspired – great stuff. Totally agree about bestsellers these days – I occasionally fall for the hype and almost always end up disappointed….

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    • Ste J

      04/04/2016 at 15:34

      I appreciate that they are a great platform to inspire reading but if people just pushed on a little bit they would be more than rewarded for their efforts. I dread people recommending me bestsellers as after a quick read in the shop I have to put them down disappointed…and wipe my hands as well for some reason.

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      • Liz

        04/04/2016 at 15:45

        Indeed. I was interested to learn about this new book award recently http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2016/mar/04/judge-a-book-speed-le-prix-de-la-page-112 A good way to test whether the author has bothered to make the centre of a book as eye-catching as the start and finish….

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        • Ste J

          04/04/2016 at 15:50

          Interesting and quirky but it would be nice to see the book world shedding awards, there are so many now that they don’t seem special. It’s gotten to the point where I can’t feel impressed by a book purely because the author has won an award because it seems everybody has won something or other. I rely on blogs, it’s the way forward!

          Liked by 1 person

           
  13. Liz Dexter

    04/04/2016 at 10:37

    Where is that bookshop??? I love having my obsessions, I was worrying yesterday that after having a grandmother obsessed with the Titanic and Anastasia (the woman who claimed to be the Russian tsar’s daughter), I am now equally obessed with and hoarding books by/about the Nicolson family, but my husband is thankfully tolerant of this way of being …

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    • Ste J

      04/04/2016 at 15:24

      The bookshop is in Nottingham, just outside the city centre with a pleasing park nearby and a shop front with a Pot Noodle dispenser for all the surrounding student lodgings. Obsession is good, tolerance is better as it means you can always push the boundaries, sadly a houses boundaries are fairly solid otherwise you would have a massive house, I’ll bet.

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      • Liz Dexter

        04/04/2016 at 15:37

        I actually have quite a large house … Need to pop to Nottingham now. Although we’re having a trip to that Book Barn somewhere in the Midlands quite soon apparently …

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        • Ste J

          04/04/2016 at 15:46

          Ooo the one in Derbyshire, near Buxton? If you do go to that one, there is a good bookshop in Buxton itself with several floors and a basement. It’s called Scrivener’s, it does book binding too.

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          • Liz Dexter

            05/04/2016 at 08:41

            No, it’s in Bedworth http://www.astleybookfarm.com/ I have heard about the Buxton one from my friends in Derbyshire, though, and that’s due a visit, too.

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            • Ste J

              05/04/2016 at 09:12

              That looks enticing and then some! I shall have to push my own wanderings further afield now and come back laden with more books than I have room for, which is a weekly occurrence at the worst of times.

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  14. Lyn

    04/04/2016 at 13:57

    I love the look of that bookstore!!! The fact that it has chairs to sit down on has me drooling. If I ever became filthy rich, I’d buy a secondhand bookstore and add a coffee shop to it 🙂

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    • Ste J

      04/04/2016 at 15:27

      That would be awesome, coffee, books and no worry about making a profit just reading and chatting to fellow book lovers all day. Bliss.

      Liked by 1 person

       
  15. Chelsea Brown

    04/04/2016 at 23:37

    I myself, try not to read in any one genre. However; when it comes to authors whose writing style I cannot get enough of, I find that I dig into their work like a prospector searching for gold.

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    • Ste J

      05/04/2016 at 09:15

      It is good to stick with what you know in terms of authors and I do find myself going back to various authors whose quality is guaranteed but I always worry that I’m missing out on something as well in other areas. Probably like a gold prospector to use your analogy, I worry that if I stop searching I miss some gold.

      Liked by 1 person

       
      • Chelsea Brown

        12/04/2016 at 16:30

        I think that when it comes to all forms of entertainment, books to movies, we feel a desire to always stay in the loop. (No thanks to pop culture.) However, being fueled by said desire might not allow us to see the gem we’ve got in our hands, because we’re so immersed in chasing after the next phenomenon. My tip for you, my friend, is not to worry. You’re constantly reading, which will eventually lead you to discover a real gem and so on.

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        • Ste J

          13/04/2016 at 10:17

          The loop is rubbish, I have decided. I come across so many books that I love that people never seem to mention and it does sadden me a bit that so much gets forgotten when inferior works are lauded by critics who are clearly deluded. Still I try and fly the flag for such books and I hope to be able to introduce you to something new and awesome very soon, or a Stephen King novel depending on my whim.

          Liked by 1 person

           
          • Chelsea Brown

            13/04/2016 at 20:03

            I don’t put much stock into critics, even if their initial judgement does prove out. There’s just something about them, a snobby quality, always seeming to have their nose in the air.
            That’s why book reviewers (such as yourself,) are so much more of a reliable source. I feel like when you’re getting paid to give your opinion, you lose that freshness, along with that trustworthy, demeanor.
            P.S. I love to read another SK review of yours.

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            • Ste J

              14/04/2016 at 09:22

              There is always the interesting questions to be asked about reviewerss, are affiliated with a book company or have a a vendetta against an author who reviewed one of their books in a bad light and so on. It is much better to read the opinions of someone who just reads for the love of reading and rates it on their previous reading experience. I also think bloggers find those hidden gems a lot more often through voracious reading and that helps vary bookshelves that would have been sad pandas for not having such books on them.

              Liked by 1 person

               
  16. clarepooley33

    05/04/2016 at 01:26

    I avoid best sellers in general, though I have just bought The Shepherd’s Life by James Rebanks. I heard him being interviewed on the radio the other week and that made me buy the book. What I always avoid is ‘chick lit’ – bleugh! I try to push the boundaries as much as possible but I have found that I have limits beyond which it is a waste of time and money to go. When I was younger it didn’t matter if I wasted time on a book I disliked.

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    • Ste J

      05/04/2016 at 09:18

      The radio used to be my chief source for new books until life inundated me with choices. Bestsellers do seem far too narrow in their scope and chick lit, of the small portion I have read is terrible. I am sure their are decent examples but like you say life is too short with all the choice out there.

      Liked by 1 person

       
  17. macjam47

    06/04/2016 at 03:03

    Even with the convenience of online ordering, nothing takes the place of browsing in a bookstore. And I hear you, it is hard, indeed, to come out with any cash left in my hand. Now about that pub…how many pints did it take to write this post?

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    • Ste J

      06/04/2016 at 09:26

      It was either two or three but there was reading involved as well, so lets call it one and a half to be fair to the book. I never order online, unless it is a stupidly obscure book but that is very rare, I prefer the smell of the books, the rooting around just on the off chance a gem is hidden somewhere in the stacks, I love the drama really.

      Liked by 1 person

       
      • macjam47

        06/04/2016 at 13:04

        Haha!
        Yes, there is nothing like the smell and feel of a physical book.

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  18. Andrea Stephenson

    09/04/2016 at 21:15

    I love bookstores, though for anyone saving the pennies and for a huge choice without having to buy, there’s the library – we’re losing too many of them at the moment.

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    • Ste J

      10/04/2016 at 10:02

      The cut in funding is ridiculous as is the obsession with turning them into computer rooms or having them as noisy children’s play areas, this is certainly a book that is probably best experienced through the library before buying. Our local library is somewhere I don’t really go to, it has some really good books in it but is too noisy and the aisles are so widely spaced so they can reduce the amount of books they have. It is a shame as I loved to go there but supporting the local independent shops means I can still feeling I’m doing my bit…until they find out about all that cash I hid away in Panama of course….

      Liked by 1 person

       

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