“Buying books would be a good thing if one could also buy the time to read them in: but as a rule the purchase of books is mistaken for the appropriation of their contents.”Baking and cookery books more so, as you have to factor in actually doing the recipes!
Last year I read Michael Foley’s The Age of Absurdity which is subtitled Why modern life makes it hard to be happy. Its an enjoyable read, not quite the sum of its parts, but nevertheless one of those books that makes you want to seek out its source material. I thought it was particularly strong in suggesting exploring stoic philosophy as an antidote to our modern consumer-orientated lifestyles. He also made a strong case for the value of reading “difficult” literature (may be one day I will get round to tackling Proust and Joyce…) and the reference to Farid Ud-Din Attar’s The conference of birds struck a chord with me. I would put it on my wish list except… except…
Foley talks about how shopping has become an end in itself, how the pleasure of shopping has become detached from the reality and utility of the goods. Well, sure, plenty of examples of that when you walk around any big shopping mall, I suppose. Foley then confesses his own vices, purchasing CDs and books. He tells of having increasing numbers of unread books.
“A new book retains its lustre of potential for about six weeks and then changes from being a possible bearer of secret lore into a liability, a reproach, a source of embarrassment and shame” (p.36).
He also notes how we can try to justify these purchases by saying we are “collecting” – Buying is not shopping it is “building a library”.
Of course, straight after reading Foley's book I went out an ordered three books on stoic philosophy which still remain substantially unread... hmmm... perhaps I do have enough books to be going on with.
I saw this book reviewed on Carl's blog and it arrived in the post this morning. I love fermented foods but never really considered making them myself. But then 18 months ago I would never have thought I'd be baking all my own bread....
A moratorium on book-buying for the next three months... see how I go.