I have been not so doggedly reading Ben Okri's The Famished Road for going on two months. That is the longest I can ever remember spending on a novel in my life. I now have only 99 pages to read, and hope to complete that by the weekend. It is not that I am not enjoying it - when I actually sit down to read I slowly get drawn back into it and enjoy it - but there is no plot tension or sense of discovery which keeps me thinking about it when I have put the book down, or drives me to actively seek to ever pick it up again. I read on out of duty, the desire to see where it is going, and enjoyment of some of the mythology, but as far as stories go, it is not one which will live long in my mind.
I have already planned my next months reading, and it contains nothing by plot based exciting stories. I will read a couple of children's books, perhaps a detective fiction novel, maybe The Unburied by Charles Palliser. I can't wait!
And yet last night, back at Waterstone's for a Graham Swift talk, I was overcome by the desire to buy books! Those I bought are ones which I have had reserved for a long time but have absolutely no intention to read in the immediate future. They are all (bar one) classic works of 20th Century literature (and the other is an ancient Japanese classic), so worthwile owning for that sake alone, and they were bought with gift cards so in effect cost me nothing.
But what was is that made me need to buy them? Was it just that I haven't bought books for a couple of months and wanted something else to read? Was it some innate need to possess and by extention associate myself with?
I don't know the psychological processes whch make me such a compulsive book acquirer so I will stick with a nice jacket demonstration of the beautiful new additions to my bookshelves.
The Magic Toyshop - Angela Carter
Their Eyes Were Watching God - Zora Neale Hurston
A Game of Hide and Seek - Elizabeth Taylor
A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving
The Hours - Michael Cunningham
The Pillow Book - Sei Shonagon