A Book for Booklovers
October 31, 2020
Bibliofile A Book for Booklovers Ranjani Rao

I like to think of myself as a prudent person. I weigh my options carefully when it comes to spending; money or time or energy. Except when it comes to books. My good sense deserts me when I come across book recommendations.

Here’s a list of books that are currently piled up by my bedside, ebooks stored on my ipad, and audiobooks downloaded on my phone.

  • Becoming – Michella Obama
  • Maybe you should talk to someone – Lori Gottleib
  • What we carry – Maya Shanbag Lang
  • The Thank-You Project – Nancy Davis Kho
  • Butterflies in November – Audur Ava Olafsdottir
  • Flourish – Martin Seligman

With a killer work schedule which shows no sign of letting up anytime soon,why do I accumulate books in various forms?

The Singapore library system has a fantastic, ever-increasing collection of books. It is also my favorite place to visit. How can I not return home with a bag full of books?

As my husband points out often – the library will store the books safely for me until I am ready to read them, one at a time – there is no need to hoard. 

The problem lies with my greedy brain that is always hungry for new words and ideas to chew upon, to make connections and to have epiphanies.

Is my book fetish just a predilection? Or is it an addiction? Perhaps there is a full-blown, named syndrome that accurately describes my symptoms. 

I come across book recommendations from various sources – newspaper articles, podcasts, book reviews in social media platforms, and of course, word of mouth endorsements from other readers. My first action is to look up a book on the NLB app, the most used (and loved) app on my phone. If available, I make a trip to the nearest library. If not, I place a hold. If the ebook or audiobook is available, I download it right away.

Sometimes I listen to the audiobook first and then check out the print copy, particularly if I decide to write a review. I followed this method for Dani Shapiro’s Hourglass. At other times, I read the print book and then place an order for a personal copy, as in the case of Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982. And occasionally, people give me books.

At any given time, my least favorite are those in ebook format. Despite being written by award-winning authors or being at the top of bestseller lists, these books wait patiently for their turn and check themselves out on the app when the due date arrives, unread. I feel sad when they leave. But I promise to call them back soon, a promise that I don’t often keep because so many other books clamour to take their place.

I spent some time at a bookstore last week, enjoying the pleasure of being in the presence of a large number of books, knowing that I could buy any that caught my attention and keep them with me for good, without having to return it on its designated due date. I saw stacks of books I had already read, including Before the Coffee gets Cold, a novel I had enjoyed reading earlier this year. And then I came across new books that I may otherwise have not encountered. 

Should I get Zadie Smith’s book of essays titled “Intimations” or “The Bookshop of Algiers” with its quaint cover? Should I pick up “The Second Mountain” by David Brooks or a biography of Ruth Bader Ginsburg? So many books to choose from. With a birthday coming up, I was tempted to reward myself with books for having endured months of extremely busy days at work.

At some point during my meandering walk through the aisles, the prudent part of me rose up. Did I really need more books? There would always be more books in the world than what I could consume. Money was not the issue, it was time and energy that I lacked at the moment.

But it felt odd to leave the store without a purchase. I lingered a bit longer and wandered to the far corner marked “gift ideas”.

That where I found exactly what I needed. A book to help me keep track of all my books. 

A Bibliofile. A reading journal for book lovers.

It’s a handy hardcover book to list my current and upcoming reading adventures with a space to make notes and also indicate a star rating.

It was an impulse buy, I admit. Only time will tell if it lies by my bedside unused or gets due attention. Stay tuned.

Do you have pet peeves about your interests – bookish or otherwise? Any predilections and addictions? Please drop me a note.

Photo credit: Ranjani Rao’s personal archives

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