As my creaking house well knows, I am a bibliophile. I can’t stop myself buying books. I intend to read them all, but it’s beginning to dawn on me that’s there’s simply not enough time left. Perhaps this is because I don’t read fast paced fiction but puritanically stick to non-fiction, which can be heavier going. As regards fiction, my aversion these days stems from a belief that if you have read the complete works of e.g. Dostoevsky as I have (and a few others) there’s not much more to read—and certainly nothing better. I guess this makes me a little narrow minded. Still, there’s not much that can be done about it. Where do you start with fiction this days? There’s so much of it about.
My experience today teaches me that I am still imbued with this idea that I may learn more from the factual than the fictive. I popped into the library and in their book sale I found a copy of Thomas Piketty’s vast and seminal tome Capital in the Twenty First Century; a book by somebody called Seth Abramson called Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America and on a lighter note, Confessions of a Recovering MP by former Tory MP Nick De Bois. I suspect there won’t be many real confessions in this last volume, but I’m always interested in learning about how others got on in the mysterious Palace of Westminster. So I left the library with this bag full of rather heavy goodies (Piketty’s book alone comes in at nearly 700 pages) and I felt a warm glow of satisfaction that together they had cost me precisely £1. How could I resist? And there’s a reason these books were in the sale—their pristine condition testified to the fact that nobody else had read them. (This reminds me of when, in the opening speeches of a new parliament William Hague, as leader of the opposition responding to an address from the other side, noted that that speaker’s book in the Commons library had never been taken out. A cheap point, but we all laughed, since there’s a grain of truth in every joke, especially at the expense of someone who may expect a greater degree of respect for their literary endeavours. Not every MP could write a book after all, still less have it published, he said snootily.)
So all that remains is to find more shelf space.
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