It’s a very hot August in Krakow, Poland, and if you escape to the mountains on the weekend – you better start your hiking very early to avoid the scorching Sun. The caves were very cold though, yes – but muddy. So, I was supposed to write something around the last weekend, but I just couldn’t, and I have a book I want to review that will have to wait at least a week… I decided to just write a few words about my latest book-buying spree.
I buy a lot, about 2/3 used – 1/3 new. This year I decided to slow down a bit in 2018, so I’ve only bought 70 books, versus 135 last year (that is, during the entire 2017). It’s August already, so that is a slight progress 😉 Maybe I’ll even succeed in staying under 100? I’ve started my spreadsheet in 2003 and… let’s agree, it’s a costly addiction. Not as costly as cigarettes, but its objects do not go up in smoke, they occupy more and more space in my flat…
There are books I read almost instantly after buying, and there are some waiting for their turn for a decade or two. I know I will never read them all, but that’s a given for a true book addict. If I could convince myself to switch, at leas partially, to e-books, I’d safe some space. But I did not manage that, and actually the % of electronic books is decreasing, not a single one bought this years, a few in 2017, never more than around 10%. I am going to stay loyal to paper, and when Amazon declares bankruptcy and wipes their servers clean, I’ll be laughing at you all 😛
As it happens, my recent loot is almost all pre-owned, which brings their average price to what I pay for a lunch in office cafeteria, and less than a half of the year’s average – and that calculation includes the shipping I had to pay for most of them. A series of bargains 🙂
The first one is Pratchett, but not a Discworld novel (I already had them all 😉 ). A Slip f the Keyboard collects his non-fiction, and is just another proof of what a wise, decent human being we lost when Alzheimer took him. I’m two-thirds into this tome and I’m definitely going to write more about it. There are great quotes there, like:
We, who are about to die, don’t want to.
and he might even get me to read some Chesterton 😉
Nix is big, and has been for over two decades, but I was only recently convinced he’s worth taking a look into. And, conveniently, one of my dealers had a good-looking set. Is it really a combination of old tropes done exquisitely well, with a fascinating magic system?
David Anthony Durham came to my attention with his War with the Mein trilogy, but his Hannibal actually came out earlier. The first was sold as solid epic fantasy, and when the time comes to read sth of that kind – I will. Pride of Carthage I will read sooner, I was always a great admirer of the great Carthaginian general. I’m a big fan of Ancient Rome, and its role in creating the civilization as we know it, but the story of someone who almost destroyed it at the beginning of its power – so fascinating! One of my favourite historical heroes, and I’ve read a lot about him already, but nothing lately. Only, I already feel melancholic, knowing how it will end… a reader of history encounters the same tragedies, time and time again.
The final two books are in Polish, but Girard is a French intellectual (but spent most of his career in the US), easily available in English. I’ve recently read his Violence and the Sacred and now I want to further my understanding of his most interesting concept by reading The Scapegoat. Sacrificial violence as the root of human society, and the way to restrict our deadly natures, that I found very interesting. But Violence… was the most difficult book I’ve read in the recent years (and I still don’t have the notes Ola promised to send me 😛 ), The Scapegoat is supposed be a bit easier, and rich in historical examples.
Maria Janion’s To Europe—Yes, but Together With Our Dead is yet another book about the Polish-Jewish relations, this time, as befits a renown historian of our literature, on the Jewish threads in Polish culture that should be preserved as part of what we should take with us into the new, European reality (it was published a few years before Poland joined the EU). She’s a feminist, but also a staunch believer in literary canon, and claims lessons can be found in the books most of us only read at school. Since she also wrote a great book about vampires in world literatures, she deserves the attention of a genre reader 😉
All this reading ahead of me, in addition to a few dozen other books I had marked for 2018 on my TBR, and it’s so hard to concentrate in 30+ Celsius…