The other day, my youngest was telling me that I always buy books. I believe that’s true. I told her that books are to me more than just buys or expenses, they are my life. From bibles, to non fiction, classics and contemporary books, books in English and in Spanish, books are part of who I am. They are nourishment for the mind and soul.
She also said how we have many more books than most homes she visits. I know better than to compare myself to others, and I’m careful not to judge. I’m the only reader at home, or the only avid reader. My daughters read incidentally, books they are assigned and a few others they choose. I try to remember that the intelligence or moral standing of people are not measured by how much or how well they read. There’s many ways to keep your mind connected with ideas, and to nurture your soul with beauty and truth.
Having said that, the books at my home represent part of who I am. They surround me with warmth, make my house look inviting, -to me at least-, and they represent possibilities, and also realities. I read them. But the unread ones are as important as the well known ones. It’s what the constantly showing up everywhere these days, Umberto Eco, calls an antilibrary. His idea is quoted here in this book, The Black Swan, the Impact of the Highly Improbable, which one of my real friends and reader extraordinaire let me borrow. A few days after I read it and returned it, my husband and I visited my sister in law’s condo to take care of it, -she doesn’t live in it-, and saw she had a copy of it that looked unread. It was one of those eerie moments in life, to see it there, on top of a table, like Alice in Wonderland bottle that said, “drink me”. I was tempted to snatch it, but I didn’t. Later on, she ended up disposing of her books and many other things, her daughter did. I lost my chance of having asked her for that particular book, -I know she would have gladly given it to me. It’s okay, it’ll come to me one way or another.
Back to Eco and his antilibrary quote in Nassim’s book:
The writer Umberto Eco belongs to that small class of scholars who are encyclopedic, insightful, and nondull. He is the owner of a large personal library (containing thirty thousand books), and separates visitors into two categories: those who react with “Wow! Signore professore dottore Eco, what a library you have. How many of these books have you read?” and the others—a very small minority—who get the point is that a private library is not an ego-boosting appendages but a research tool. The library should contain as much of what you do not know as your financial means … allow you to put there. You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menacingly. Indeed, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books. Let us call this collection of unread books an antilibrary.
That quote is the motor idea when it comes to buying books. I believe we all weight the book and our means, and if we spend more than we want, it’s usually because we are getting something we value. It truly is an investment. Fortunately, I live at a place and time where acquiring good books, books I’m strongly interested in, it’s not that expensive. That can make me overbuy. If I’ve done that at some library or book store sales, with time I’ve culled my library, and even gotten book credit for the extras. So all is well that ends well, -is that how it goes?
I rarely pay full price for books. Loving classics has its advantages, -they are widely available and utterly cheap. Being willing to wait some time for the new hype books is also a strategy I employ. However, for those books one has to pay a higher price than usual, there’s christmas, birthdays, and other special occasions. There’s also the library, which I appreciate much. Only that, as we all know, library loans all show up at once, and usually when we are in the middle of a very long book, or when life doesn’t allow us to read much.
Obtaining books, and which ones I get, is something that evolves and grows with me over the years. From our homeschooling days, I have a good amount of quality titles across many subjects. Since space is not a constrain at the moment, I’m keeping them. Later in life, when the girls are ready to leave home, I’ll decide their fate and give them what they want, keep others, and dispose of the rest donating, selling, or trading.
When I first started with our home library, I had nothing and bought and took mostly everything. Library sales or sales of any sort were my best friends. As I needed certain books for our studies, online shopping became my new love. When I returned to reading more in Spanish, online stores became a necessity. But it never fails, after some weeks pass, the great bargain online orders that come in the mail are never enough. I need the experience of hunting books down at a brick and mortar book store.
I have not had the pleasure of doing any trip with any literary stop in many years. Two summers ago in Madrid, I could not visit any of its amazing book stores. It’s okay. There’s a time for everything under the sun. The way things are, my local second hand book store is a constant source of joy. There’s rarely a time in which I visit it that I don’t find amazing books.
Today, the findings have been fascinating. You all know I believe in the God of the Scriptures. To Him I thank for this rich life He gives us, for days like today, for the many blessings, the books, the people, creation.
Let me explain the haul you’ve seen sprinkled through the post.
El cementerio de Praga, The Prague Cemetery, by Umberto Eco. Signore Eco is everywhere I turn. I couldn’t pass on this title in Spanish. However, I have to say that I’m a bit apprehensive. I trust Goodreads, I do, and it doesn’t get very good reviews, specially from those who have loved his master piece, The Name of the Rose. At 400+ pages, it is on the longish side. It seems to be the poster-child of the conspiracy books. Who knows. It may be worth the try.
The Unconsolable. Another story to tell. Once upon a time, I was going to hold a book club here, and read this one with anyone interested, -and there were a few people who were in-. I ordered it, -it was a different edition-, and kept reading some reviews and some passages, and something told me it was not a book I wanted to read and discuss with others. I actually have thought for some years now, it’d be the only book by Ishiguro I would leave unread. Seeing The Unconsolable today at the store, when I’ve never seen it there before, along with An Artist of the Floating World, and after knowing that Bellezza loves it, something told me I must read it. (Actually, Belleza, if you read this before I contact you, this copy in English of An Artist of the Floating World is for you. I’ve read this title twice, but in Spanish, which I prefer).
So far, my favorite books by Ishiguro are not his most famous ones, this is my order:
#1 A View of Pale Hills
#2 An Artist of the Floating World
#3 We Were Never Orphans
#4 The Remains of the Day
#5 Never Let Me Go
#6 The Buried Giant
His book Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall, I had to return to the library and never quite finished. And I have not read The Unconsoled. I think I’m also missing another short stories anthology titled Come Rain or Come Shine. I’m impatiently waiting for him to write a new book.
What do you think about Cat’s Cradle. I have no idea why I love Vonnegut so much. I thought one had to be counter culture to enjoy this author, young and preferentially someone with tattoos. It may sound ridiculous, but that was the preconception that I had. Still I’m only up to my waist, I have not submerged myself completely in his books. I once started an audio for Breakfast for Champions, but that I could not stomach. I’m not cut for that book.
I also saw this edition of The Loved One, by Evelyn Waugh. I knew he was the author of Brideshead Revisited, a book I have but have not read. I was hesitant, and reading what he said, that it wasn’t for the sensitive, or fainthearted, it frankly scared me. I also have to admit something funny, I thought Evelyn Waugh was a woman author. Brideshead was a book selected by a podcast called Close Reads. It made a big ripple in that group, but it’s one of those authors that I’ve decided I won’t like even though I have not read anything by him yet. Please, tell me if I’m missing something important.
The Juniper Tree and Other Tales from Grimm. I bought this one for me, and for my youngest daughter. Fiction Fan had mentioned another retelling of the Grimm tales, which I thought was illustrated but wasn’t. This one is. By no less than Maurice Sendak. I find his illustrations spell bounding.
Last, The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor. It’s just 100 pages. And such a story. Based on a true event, the shipwrecked sailor had several 6 hour interview sessions with Márquez who agreed to write the book in first person. Please, read this. Brona brought this book to my attention this week, and I was shocked to have found it today at the store. I’ve never seen this title there before. It’s a title that put the man’s life in jeopardy, as well as Márquez’s. If you haven’t being successful, or don’t want to commit to his acclaimed and long One Hundred Years of Solitude, and Love in the Time of Cholera, please, don’t hesitate with any and all of his short stories.
It looked as if someone who had read my blog and yours these past days had placed many books I want in the shelves.
And that’s all. I’m going to retire now, read some, rest some, and get ready for the Lord’s day tomorrow. Good night!