being a bibliophile in the digital world


the paradox of choice. my Amazon wish list has presently 207 items on it, and there are about ten thousand unread books on my Kindle. or maybe 252+. despite of these rather impressive numbers, I spend more time looking for books than reading them. I pore over my wish list obsessively, hoping that the price of one of the books gets lowered, thus giving me an incentive to move it from one list to another.

I’m a sucker for a good deal, which Amazon knows and shamelessly uses to trick me into buying more than I’m humanly able to read before having to buy something else. because once a new books sits on your bedside table or its digital equivalent on your reading apparatus of choice for too long, it loses its allure. if you don’t start reading a new book rather soon, chances are you won’t touch it for quite a while. and I’m not making this up. it’s one of those well-documented glitches in human minds that keeps life interesting, your piles of books growing and bookstores in business.

in an attempt to force myself into not being like everyone else [and to save money in the process], I decided not to buy any new books before reading everything in at least my two most frequented Kindle collections: ‘fiction – as in really contemporary & not sorted by nationality’ and ‘think – the newer stuff’… not very creatively named, I know. a lot of my other collections contain freely available classics and are sorted by nationality. and there is no chance that I read them all. ever. I just keep adding to them so I can keep considering myself educated and well-read.

but I decided to read absolutely everything in the two above mentioned collections and, to make things even easier, to read them in whatever order they were presented to me. unfortunately, my Kindle is currently set to display items organized by author… which left me to start with Aravind Adiga.

times three!

I got his books for 99p each at one of Kindle’s many sales. The White Tiger came highly recommended and with a Booker Prize. I actually know someone who is friends with someone who knows him personally [and got invited to the Booker ceremony!]. thinking about it, I even know someone who knows him directly, coincidentally a friend of my friend who is friends with someone who knows him personally but is not the person who knew him personally first.

my only claim to fame.

I read The White Tiger right whenever I bought it but let its siblings sit and gather digital dust. in retrospect I don’t know why. I very much enjoyed it and should not have needed unreasonable resolutions to keep going. I did enjoy Between the Assassinations about as much when I read it a couple of weeks ago. and I did move straight to Last Man in Tower. which I am still enjoying. a few pages every day. and that’s where the story ends.

because I have already moved on and screwed up my little experiment.

instead of going to John Banville’s The Sea which would have been acceptable, reading multiple books at a time is permissible, I jumped to Julian Barnes’ The Sense of an Ending which I already read a year ago. I also bought [!!!] – as you know – Tove Jansson’s Winter Book and re-read her Summer Book, skipping Don DeLillo, Emma Donoghue, Gavin Extence, Allan Hollinghurst, A.M. Homes, Eowyn Ivey and E.L. James in the process [for your information, I have no intention of reading the latter, having bought Shades of Grey in a moment of mild confusion. but don’t quote me on that should my confusion grow and I do end up reading it in the future].

and today, while debating to get Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of GirlI don’t like her, I really don’t, but I think she can write, and this might be interesting, or it might not, but do I really want to buy into her superficial brand of white, privileged feminism, and why on earth do I have such problems with her anyways, what does that say about me

Amazon maliciously offered me Virginia Woolf’s diaries. the complete edition!

I was looking for something a bit more personal, written by a woman – they must have found out somehow – and because I had not read anything by her – I’m educated and well-read, remember – I had to get it.


but of course all Virginia talks about is reading and writing and now I’m totally screwed. I somehow doubt that once I finish the books I’m currently reading, Woolf’s diaries, The Sense of an Ending, The Etymologicon, The Golden Notebook and Last Man in Tower, I will move to the sea. no, I will drown instead in ever-growing numbers of more things to read. I’ll just have to find a bridge with a power outlet to move under. I don’t have time to live. I’ll just read.

it’s not easy to be a bibliophile in this brave new world of ours. access to books 24/7. on multiple devices. access to your whole library from your toilet seat.

gone are the days where you had to read a book at home because its 1200 pages bound in heavy cardboard and adorned with embarrassing illustrations made it advisable to not leave the house with it. the days of adult covers for fantasy or YA fiction so that bankers and lawyers and other proudly boring people could read them on the tube. dying the days of aggressively flirting with slightly dorky looking guys solely because they were reading something interesting. of classifying frequent coffee-shop goers based on their choice of coffee AND their reading materials.

how are we supposed to find our ideal mates under circumstances like that? how are we supposed to create lots of little bibliophiles if we are driven into solitude by unlimited access to words? find future husbands amongst commenters on goodreads? maybe if Amazon would add a dating service to its website, matching users based on the books they peruse, life would be easier. or someone could come up with a bibliophile dating app. you add your age range and the last five books you read and it would show you everyone reading one or more of them in a radius of fifty miles. now that would be useful indeed!

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