Good days

“There is no shortage of good days. It is good lives that are hard to come by. A life of good days lived in the senses is not enough. The life of sensation is the life of greed; it requires more and more. The life of the spirit requires less and less; time is ample and its passage sweet. Who would call a day spent reading a good day? But a life spent reading — that is a good life.”

—Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

weekend

I spent last payday’s wages on books…I went a little crazy, online.

I ordered back issues of the literary journal Granta, collected works by Graham Greene and a novel by William Faulkner. I snapped up some short story collections of Latin American writers, in Spanish. I took out two literary magazine subscriptions: Overland, and The Lifted Brow. I impulsively put Taschen’s massive full-colour art books of Egon Schiele and of Peter Beard, in my shopping cart, and paid for them with my eyes half-shut, and without looking at what the total came to. Then I ordered Dan Eldon’s The Journey Is The Destination, because he was influenced by Peter Beard.

Finally, and already made extremely uncomfortable by this binge of book-buying, I threw the last of my sensibility (and money) to the wind and bought the out-of-print, hard-to-find monograph produced in Germany of the works of Expressionist artist Jeanne Mammen. She was an amazing painter, and so little is known of her…apart from this one monograph of her work, there are no books, illustrated or otherwise, about her.

I know what you’re thinking: did I rob a bank…or am I printing the money at home? This sounds like the online shopping spree of a person with lots of disposable income, but I’m actually just a salesgirl in a shop, I work three days a week, and I send a third of my income to help an elderly parent.

The decision to enrich my life with books means that I give up other things. For the last four days I have lived on pots of coffee and boiled spaghetti with salt and garlic—which is the only thing that I have on my boat— because I can’t afford to go grocery shopping for a week or two.

Do I care? Not really. I love elaborate cooking, and among my friends I am known as a bit of a foodie. Just a bit. But I love books. I love them first. I love them more. If I were to be completely practical and honest about things, food is ultimately just fuel for the body to run on. (My foodie friends will have heart attacks when they read this blasphemy). I could have a whole Instagram account dedicated to what I eat, but can I tell the difference between a five dollar meat pie and a 70 dollar three-course dinner, in the…um…at the…end? LOL

Besides, we all eat too much, these days, so that a few days off food won’t hurt. I don’t mind eating salted chickpeas out of the can with a spoon as my one meal of the day, if it’s because I have just bought some fabulous books on art, or literature.

I found that I didn’t really want to eat, these past four days, anyway. I was lost between the pages of my books—some of which have started to arrive from the booksellers—and wasn’t hungry for anything but beautiful prose and inspiration.

 

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19 thoughts on “Good days

  1. I suspect that most of us on WordPress join you in our love for books; years ago when I lived in Costa Rica, I’d return to the states and spend a large part of my money to stock up on books – much like you shared in this post – and then I disciplined myself not to touch that grand marvelous stack/stacks until the rainy season rolled around… if the rains started in the night and continued into the morning, I would smile, reach over and grab a book – and be worthless until I reached the final page! Your selection is a great one – I wish it were nearby for borrowing!!!! Enjoy your books!

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  2. I love books too. The three years I spent studying literature at James Cook University were blissful. I tell my friends I am professionally qualified to read novels… But I always was a book lover, ever since I was a small child. I grew up in Durban, South Africa in the 1950s-60s, and was dismayed by the narrow-minded culture around me. Books were a portal to an alternative world, and even today I have over 300 books on my 7 metre boat, jammed in every available space. The joy of ordering a new book, the anticipation while waiting for it to arrive, and sitting down with a cup of tea to read it are my greatest pleasures. I understand why you’d starve – and what a treasure trove your selection of books sounds like!

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    1. A boat filled with books is a wonderful thing…a floating library, a traveling treasure house.
      These will sustain me for quite some time, it will be a while before I do this again…besides, I’m what today’s ambiguous marketing language calls “curvy”, Graham, so I don’t starve…I live off of my ‘reserves’ 😉

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  3. I also love books and have often had a binge splurge on them myself so absolutely zero judgments from me. I don’t think you needed to explain or justify yourself anyway. You earned your own money and can spend it however you see fit.

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    1. Thanks, Laura…I just thought it was a funny story, secretly eating cans of chickpeas with a spoon at home, while binging on beautiful books… 😉 It came up when I tried to write something about the sketch…

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  4. Nat, I couldn’t help but remember the boy in the attic with just an apple and a sandwich, while he pored over the Never Ending Story… I downloaded it and play it at least once a year! Love, Dad

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    1. What I really meant to say, was, how can I tell you how much I love you for sacrificing your food to help your old Dad! Salted Spaghetti and garlic? Truly, love has no bounds!

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