Sam van Zweden



buying books

A Month of Reading

With the extra day in February this year (a leap year), I’d convinced myself I’d have the upper hand and be able to read an extra book this year… Perhaps a whole book is a bit ambitious, but I am about a hundred pages ahead of where I’d be without the 29th of February. So thanks, Leap Year.

It’s been hard, but I have managed to stop myself from buying new books constantly. I’ve still “bought” a lot of books, but my book-buying budget’s reasonable now. I bought a book I want to review for the uni magazine (the new Daniel Handler – aka Lemony Snickett), as well as a weight-loss book. I bought books I need for school, and was quite impressed that the total cost of this semester’s texts came to a grand $39. Anything else that came in was a reading copy, a gift, or a used book.

The lovely director of the Emerging Writers’ Festival, Lisa Dempster, is leaving Melbourne at the end of the year. In preparation, she’s selling all her books. They’re cheap, in good nick, and there’s still quite a list up there. I picked up five books from Lisa for $20; three books I’ve been looking for cheap copies of for a while, plus two random grabs. Not only will you be buying good cheap books, you’ll be helping Lisa downscale and get some cash together for whatever adventure she takes on next. (If you’re not familiar with Lisa’s adventures, try here or here).

One last note on what’s come in: I started a book-sharing group, and it’s been pretty well-received. I made a Facebook group of my friends that I know like reading and have a lot of books like I do. Whenever we come across a book we don’t feel the need to hang onto any more, we post it to the group for another book-lover to adopt. The books in the “gifted” section this month came from that group. If you’re in a similar position to me and my friends (toooooo many books! But we all still want more…), I’d recommend giving something like this a try.

What have you read this month?

Books Bought:
Why We Broke Up, by Daniel Handler
Lose Weight Fast, by Susie Burrell
The Amazing Adventures of Diet Girl, by Shauna Reid
Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts
A Bend in the River, by V.S. Naipul
Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro
Marching Powder, by Rusty Young
Trojan Women and Hippolytus, by Euripedes
The Psychology of Love, by Sigmund Freud
The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James
Symposium and Phaedrus, by Plato

Reading Copies:
The New Republic, by Lionel Shriver
Mateship With Birds, by Carrie Tiffany
Running Dogs, by Ruby J Murray

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins
Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides
Look At Me, by Jennifer Egan

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
All Of Us: The Collected Poems, Raymond Carver
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins

Books Read:
Flying With Paper Wings, by Sandy Jeffs
Bright Lights, Big City, by Jay McInerney
The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick
A Visit From The Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan
The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins

Currently Reading:
Killing, by Jeff Sparrow
The Confidence Gap, by Russ Harris

39 down… 962 to go!

It’s really, really hard not to spend all my money on books. Working in a book store means I’m now eyeing off categories I normally wouldn’t even go to, and “trying to broaden my product knowledge” is just as good an excuse as any… In two and a half weeks I’ve bought four books. It sounds pretty controlled, but if I did that all the time I would be both poor and swamped, so from now on I’m resolving to buy things only when I have saved up the cash by putting it aside from my living and debt-paying-off expenses.

One of the many books I’m stopping myself from buying is the very cool 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. It’s exactly what the title suggests. In a great act of genius and self-control, I looked up the list online instead of spending the $50-odd on the book that will probably sit around for a fair while.

I’ve read 39 out of the recommended 1001. I was discussing today how much more achievable the other books in the same series are. …Songs to Hear Before You Die is pretty easy, at the average three minutes per track. …Movies to See and Albums to Listen To, likewise, at about two hours, three maximum. As a pretty slow reader, it’s going to take me a lifetime to finish that list. Or, by Estelle Tang’s calculations, about a third of a lifetime. Having said that, I’ve saved the list to my computer, and I’m going to work on crossing off a bunch more of those books in future. Many of them are on my shelf waiting to be read… So I guess we’ll see if that “39” goes up any further toward the end of the year.

If you can be bothered going through the list – how many have you read?

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