6. Writers have a responsibility to tell the truth; not however the truth, but only a truth - whatever partial and limited fragment has caught their fancy, however major or minor, and whether about reality or about the reaches of human emotion and ideals. The world in general and the human heart in particular are full of contradictory and hard to reconcile truths, and doing justice to one at a time is as much as can be asked of anyone; demanding that your pet truth be shoehorned anywhere it could conceivably fit, without regard to the subject and purpose of the work, is both an act of philistinism and a denial of that complexity.

7. Owning books is like building a massive external storage for your mind. After all, if you're familiar enough with the contents of the books you own to know which information you need, and where to lay your hands on it when required, it's at least a bit like knowing everything in your library. (Not exactly, but a bit. Although this approach doesn't work for all sorts of knowledge: knowing precisely what point on what instructional DVD there's a clear description of how to perform a given dance move is not even the tiniest little bit like actually knowing how to do it.)

8. One of the things I most love about books is the ability to see things from different perspectives, to step from one vision of the world to another as I go from book to book. To me, each book says not 'to read me you must accept this is the way the world is' but 'let me show you how the world might look from this viewpoint'. On doesn't necessarily have to like a view to consider it a valuable exercise.

For some reason, I seem to have read like that from early childhood. I always took each book as being set as it were in its own individual universe, with its own rules, including moral rules. It was up to me to decide in what manner that universe related to real life. Thus mere repetition of, say, some moral position even across many books had far less impact than you might expect: obviously there were many things that happened frequently in stories but not in real life, so I saw no reason to think moral judgements couldn't also fall into that category. In fact, I consistently read books as propositions, as a specific way of looking at the world that was being offered for my consideration, not as a full and definitive statement as to how the real world actually is.

9. The number of books not only rises to fill available shelf space but tends to surpass it, and probably always will. (with apologies to Parkinson)

10. I have books I've read, sometimes repeatedly; books I've read the part of that interests me; reference books; books extremely unlikely to be useful for anything at all (but wouldn't it be frustrating to get rid of them and then unexpectedly need to know whether the Brahminy Kite tends to vocalize during flight, or details of the classical tunings of the Burmese harp? In fact, my inability to get rid of books is in large part based on precisely this paranoia, that as soon as I get rid of anything, I will have a sudden and unexpected - very unexpected - need for it); new books on the to-be-read shelf (let's be honest - shelves, plural); books I don't really want to read but know I should; books I'm sure I'll get round to finishing one day ... isn't this normal? It's a working library, not a graveyard in which to store books I've done with.
Look! For once, I'm actually posting something, and in my own journal too, not rambling uninvited in other people's. I said I'd do this, oh, only 5 months or so ago, which you'll admit is hardly any time at all, really. For reasons of length, I'm dividing it into three parts, cleverly getting thrice the posts from the one meme, and allowing me to feel triply accomplished.

1. I find I read considerably more non-fiction than fiction, something I always feel guilty about, even though I can't put my finger on why. Do other people who like non-fiction feel that way? If you predominantly read fiction, do you suffer from an obscure sense you should be reading more non-?

4 more things about books )


quillori: Photo of an Intha fisherman on Lake Inle, Burma (Default)

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