A book backlog…

Pile of wonderful books

The persecutory culprits (artfully arranged, I should add, not ‘tossed’ into a heap!)

So if things have been a bit quiet around here lately, it’s one more sign that the 5:2 effect is in full force. I don’t mean the intermittent fasting diet, I mean the five days that pass in a blur of work and commuting, followed by two days in which you frantically try to pack in everything, from self-enlightenment down to mere life admin, not to mention sleeping, reminding yourself you have friends, and just sitting quietly and wondering about it all.

Amidst this frenzy, I’m becoming increasingly aware of my book backlog. Yes, let’s set aside for now the opera DVDs that are unwatched (in the proper sense of actually concentrating on them) and CDs unlistened to (ditto): there’s something about small piles of unread books that can gang together and take on a persecutory air.  My partner is a fantastic eBayer and peruser of charity shops.  Consequently I have a nicely growing collection of books that are antiquarian, or bordering on it, or otherwise quirky or interesting. A number of them just haven’t made it to being read yet…

John Ruskin’s The Stones of Venice, despite a couple of good goes, glowers at me in a small turn-of-the-century three-volume set. His Seven Lamps of Architecture, spineless but as yet not unhinged, has happily received its due attention. Sir Nikolaus Pevsner’s Pelican edition of An Outline of European Architecture carries a forlorn air of the 1950s as it languishes on the shelving equivalent of a bleakly-unvisited concrete shopping precinct. Charles Eastlake’s A History of the Gothic Revival, on the other hand, sits defiantly in two fulsome editions, a first edition and a 1970s reprint, the latter only briefly troubled. That’s before we get to other subjects: typography, design, subterranean London… And so it goes on… a vintage bookcase (if you like that sort of thing) ready to be called as witness for the prosecution in the case of work v. life, with disorganisation as co-respondent.

Detail, Exeter College Chapel, from Eastlake, The History of the Gothic Revival

Such wonders as do await: from Eastlake, The History of the Gothic Revival

And yet, though I touch wood as I say this, there’s time. I faithfully tell myself that the moment will come, the muse will strike, and Eastlake, Pevsner, Ruskin et al will get their moment in my modest version of sunlight. And yes, M. Proust, after all this time that might even mean you.

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