Tag Archive: pretentious

Why do we keep books?

I used to have thousands of books on bookshelves which dominated my house. Wall to wall, floor to ceiling, the evidence of how well read I really was, was there for all to see. And be impressed by. Cos let’s be honest, part of why we hoard books, books we will never read again, is so that others will see what very clever well-read people we are. Or that’s what I think anyway.

One sunny day, watching dust motes in the sunlight after my maid had dusted my bookshelves I suddenly realised that the evidence of my smartness/well readness/interestingness as a human being/ability to make up words lay not in the pages and pages lining my walls, but in my interaction with humans.
Also, I mused, all of these books are being kept here so I can be seen as one who reads rather than being sent out into the world so that others too can enjoy them.

And suddenly not only did I not need the literary wall paper, but suddenly I had a desire to free myself of their weight and what had been for me, pretension. What I did not expect was the great joy I had when sorting through them and distribution them to other readers. I loved giving some of my most enjoyed books to others knowing that the wonderful experience of that book was in their future. I felt jealous of people about to experience my beloved stories. But also so glad for them and for the book, for its freedom to be out of my living room and back in the wild, back being read and loved rather than observed and ignored.

I set my books free, all 1 500 of them, and suddenly my house and world was open for new things. And not a single person suddenly thought I was a dullard because my walls were covered in art and other decorations.

I still have some books, of course I do. I have a waiting-to-be read pile that is as large as many people’s entire book collection, I have books I loved that I am waiting for my nephews to get old enough to hand on, and I have some beautiful non-fiction books I keep because they are works of art all on their own. And of course I have a slew of cookery books.

But I no longer keep books simply to keep them. I have no need to look like a book shop – the book shop is in my head.


Last night i went out with a very good mate of mine. Ankles and i have been friends forever. And have seen each other through some stuff. So we are allowed to comment on each other’s lives.


Last night i got to meet the new girl in his life.

She is fine – nothing so amazing or awful that she warrants a post

But what does need telling was the crazy ‘biggest dick’ competition which ensued.


She met one of Ankles’ mates and they started discussing red wine; a potentially pretentious conversation at the best of times. This one was made more so by the fact that twice during the debate on whether Rothschild 2002 is a better wine that Squishedgrapes 2009 the in-depth conversation was interrupted so both show offs could drink tequila – out of the bottle!


This drinking style does render a point about the robust berries exploding on your tongue followed by a stroke of chocolate before a well-rounded after taste settles like honey on your tongue sound rather ridiculous! When we got to how many cases of what was brought for 21st and then slowly drunk one even more exquisite bottle after the next, every year since, i shook my head and gave up.


And still they droned on. It was mildly amusing to watch both of them so desperate to impress each other.


And of course i am adamant i was never THAT young!