It’s the perennial cry of the teenage girl who, despite having at least three bookcases in her bedroom, all packed with a variety of books ranging from GCSE texts to Judy Bloom to the latest self-published fanfics involving various members of One Direction, has absolutely nothing to read and must visit a bookstore immediately to fix this problem. Or perhaps that’s clothes? One of the two.
I am recently returned from a short trip to the South West, where I got up to lots of mischief, met up with old friends, made new ones, drank some port, relaxed somewhat, engaged in witty verbal repartee, toasted a birthday girl and went for brisk walks. But less of all that, really, and more of the following very important numbers:
Outward flight baggage mass: 12kg.
Return flight baggage mass: 17.5kg.
I attribute the 5.5kg gain thusly: 500g in new clothes (skirt and top), and 5kg in books.
It’s not as though this is really news to anyone who knows me! It’s not really news to myself either (self-knowledge being the seat of wisdom, though my being wise is an amusing thought). But what strikes me is that for the first time that I’m aware of I now look at all these glorious tomes I’ve acquired – including a gift of three of Thomas Hardy’s works which I’m itchting to get started on – and I just don’t know quite where to begin. It’s not helped by the fact that even before I left I had a ‘To Read’ pile that makes a decent stab at reaching the ceiling. I’m almost tempted to just stack all these books up and take a photo!
Only I know I won’t, because that’s confrontational in the way that making a To Do list is confrontational. You’re aware that you’re in a mess and have to do something about said mess and making such a list gives a necessary overview of the mess…but that clarity has the potential to freak you out. Even though ‘self-hacking’ gurus from here to a therapist’s couch will tell you that that first discomfort is groundwork without which a problem cannot be solved.
So knowing me I’ll probably take a photo anyway….
But whilst I’ll probably give in to my conscience at some point, I’m nothing if not good at procrastination. And so you find me sitting here, knowing where all these books are (I daren’t look at them all just yet – not all at the same time), musing on this enormous task ahead of me, and yet not – if you’ll excuse the mistranslated Dutch – bringing them under eyes*.
So, as procrastination, I give you:
I’m aiming for 31 books this year. I wonder how many books there are in this mythological pile I keep telling myself about….
*onder ogen brengen, lit. ‘to bring under eyes,’ means to gain overview of something. ‘Overview’ feels clumsy to me, but that’s because the Dutch word, overzicht, translates literally as ‘oversight,’ which of course is not quite the same thing.