I’ve just had a flash of literary kinsmanship, a true moment of realisation that I owe to the wonderful Jeanette Winterson, and which will probably reveal itself to be very dangerous for the state of my finances and bookshelves, but here it is:
I’ve been dipping in and out of Winterson’s art objects, a collection of essays on art and literature and Virginia Woolf and so much more, a collection so dense and fascinating I usually read one then pause for a few days to let it sink in. And today, the one I read is called “The psychometry of books”, and it is about book collecting. It starts:
“Book collecting is a obsession, an occupation, a disease, an addiction, a fascination, an absurdity, a fate. It is not a hobby. Those who do it must do it. Those who do not do it, think of it as a cousin of stamp-collecting, a sister or the trophy cabinet, bastard of a sound bank account and a weak mind.”
How true, how perfect. I wanted to shout, to sing those lines aloud (even if that might get me transfered to the closest asylum and despite my love of the country I really don’t want to try out Cambodia”s mental health care, thank you very much). Somebody (well of course not just anybody) gets it.
I would have been content just with that, but a bit further comes the line which I will now utter everytime I ask myself whether I should be buying more books or not:
“That is the way with books. You regret only the ones you did not buy.”
So from now on, fellow book-addicts, I shall procede without guilt and remind myself every time I feel apologetic about having bought a couple books, that first it is not really a choice, more a question of fate. And mostly, that it is the ones you don’t buy that you’ll regret. Enough said.
P.s. since it is now universally proven that it is acceptable to buy books, buy “Art objects”. You won’t regret it.