I have another cold; it’s bleak midwinter outside, all grey and frost and bare, spindly-limbed trees. It’s Christmas, almost, but it doesn’t feel it: I have the sense of running at full speed towards something that I can’t see, that’s just, perhaps, over-that-hill-there. We were meant to babysit tonight but because I’m feeling so rotten I’m staying home to soak in the bath and drink cup after cup of tea; somehow the prospect of spending the evening without The Man seems dark to me, even though I know I have a lot of work I need to get down to doing, anyway; even though I’m not great company at the moment anyway. I think this is what they call man-flu, maybe–but I’m not officially admitting to it, just throwing it out into the ether as a suggestion.
But in my avoidance of work, which today so far has taken the form of perusing The Guardian’s Books section (a far more highbrow form of avoidance than usual, to be honest), I came across this, which amuses me to consider. But my problem is not so much all the books I’ve bought but refuse, for some reason or other, to read, but all the books I’ve bought and would really really like to read but haven’t yet because other books keep getting in the way.
Take George Steiner’s My Unwritten Books: I’ve been on page three for nearly six months now, because I keep reading other things. Or Oil! by Upton Sinclair, Nature Cure by Richard Mabey, The File on H by Ismail Kadare, all of which are lingering near my pile of “books I’m currently reading,” as if they, too, want to be included; all of which I’ve dipped tentatively into at some point and then withdrawn so that, in their stead, I’ve finished Orlando, The Night Climbers, various novels by Colin Dexter, and an über-academic text on Walter Benjamin’s writings on The City (as a literary idea, so therefore, in my mind, it deserves unecessary capitals).
Then again, maybe I’m just in denial. Maybe my subconscious is trying to tell me that actually, I don’t really want to read these books, in spite of the fact that I think I do. Or maybe I should just buckle down, concentrate on one thing for longer than fifteen minutes without finding something else more interesting, and actually read them.
But somehow, I think none of this is going to stop me from buying oodles of books this holiday season.