A product of contemplation; a thought: "an elegant tapestry of quotations, musings, aphorisms, and autobiographical reflections" (James Atlas).
I would like to welcome you all to a brand new feature on the blog. Monday Musing is hopefully going to be a series of posts on a variety of subjects. Authors and Bloggers are welcome. I hope to have guest posts, interviews, and lots more.
My very first guest on this shiny new series is Tracey Sinclair. Welcome to the blog Tracey and thanks so much for taking part with a fabulous post about book purchasing habits, which very much mirror my own!
Can books be a disposable pleasure?
There’s nothing I love more than a packed bookshelf. It remains a fantasy of mine to have a library, a reading nook, walls lined with shelves after shelves of beautiful books, and I can often be found swooning enviously over friends’ generous shelvage.
Yet, when it comes to my own collection, I rarely keep a book after I’ve read it: a few old favourites aside, once something is read, it’s out the door – passed to a friend or given to charity, but out of my house for good. You’d think this would mean I would economise: wait until things are in paperback or, better yet, since it’s partially a space issue (I live in a one-bedroom rental with no shelves and no storage space) simply download what I want. But no: I continue to spend a ridiculous amount of money on glossy, pretty hardbacks, despite the transient pleasure I know they’ll bring.
The roots of this are tangled but obvious. I grew up in a working class household that was big on learning but tight on funds: there weren’t a lot of books at home, but I was an avid reader who spent an inordinate amount of time in my local library (one of the reasons I’m so angry about Government attacks on the library service is I remember what a lifeline it was for kids like me). As I went onto university (all those library visits having paid off), I started to connect book collections with affluence, and having one became an aspiration for me – despite being undermined as I regularly had to sell my used text books to boost my funds.
But my twenties were peripatetic – at one stage I moved a staggering 13 times in under 3 years – and the fantasy of owning a huge amount of books clashed with the reality of having to move them around so much. You love hardbacks a lot less when you’ve had to lug 5 boxes of them up four flights of Glasgow tenement stairs, let me tell you.
Although I am (hopefully!) more settled now, that sense of transience stuck – I rarely buy anything with the idea that it will be forever, books included. And yet I can’t face taking the sensible option, and just switching to digital, like many of my friends – I know people who haven’t bought a single physical book since they purchased their Kindles.
Not that I’m against digital. I don’t at all buy into the argument that being a ‘real’ book depends on something being a physical entity. I’m a huge fan of digital – as an author, it’s been invaluable, and as a reader it’s been nothing but a blessing. The convenience of being able to download a book the minute I want to has many a time catered to a binge read of an addictive series, and I’ve discovered a lot of authors I would never have read, since digital books tend to be cheaper, making me more willing to take a punt on an unknown entity. It’s also encouraged me to read more short works, since I resent paying the best part of a tenner (or more!) for a book that takes half an hour to read (disclaimer: I still sometimes buy these, but I feel annoyed at myself for doing so). Through digital I have discovered treasures like We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, or one-off short stories that I would never have paid ‘hard copy’ prices for. (I’d like to say digital is more convenient for travel, but since I usually take my iPad and a ridiculous amount of physical books on any trip, I’d be lying.)
There is, however, an undeniable tactile pleasure to a physical book, and one I am happy to pay for, even if the enjoyment is short-lived. I’ve been swayed by striking covers or nice paper or even a different format (I have a weakness for American paperbacks – every time I go to the States, I return with half a dozen books straining my baggage allowance). I’m content to have them sitting there looking pretty, if occasionally making me feel guilty – the downside of only keeping books I haven’t read is my tottering stacks are one giant TBR pile. And, when they are done, I get a thrill from knowing they’ll be going to another home, and someone else will enjoy them.
Tracey Sinclair is an author and freelance editor and writer. Her books include the romcom The Bridesmaid Blues and the Dark Dates/Cassandra Bick series, the latest of which, Angel Falls, is out now.
It isn't easy to surprise Cassandra Bick. When you run a human-vampire dating agency, your colleague is a witch who is engaged to a shifter and your business partner is one of London's most powerful (and sexiest) vampires, there's no such thing as a normal day at the office. But when a mysterious Dark Dates client brings a dire warning of a new threat to the city's supernatural community, Cass and her friends realise they are up against their deadliest foe yet – and that this time, the danger is far closer to home than they could ever have imagined. Sexy, snarky and with more bite than a crypt full of vampires, Angel Falls is the latest in the Dark Dates: Cassandra Bick series.