Whenever I’m asked by someone what my hobbies are, my standard response is “reading and running”. If the person asking the question seems trustworthy and likeable and non-judgmental, I might also mention that I write (and then I’ll freak out about whether or not I should have just stuck to my standard response, and worry what to say if they ask what I write). Continue reading
In the last two weeks, I have been to the book store twice. Each time, I spent somewhere around an hour browsing and agonising over what book I should buy. I don’t really buy that many books (I know that’s completely subjective, but please take my word on that), but the first time was to use up reward points (including bonus anniversary points because I first signed up in the October of a previous year), and the second visit was to use a gift card. So, you see, they were completely necessary visits and acquisitions.
I always have a mental list of books that I would like to own, but I am also very conscious of the fact that I have very limited space to store all these books, and also very limited time in which to read all these books (I easily already own enough books to keep me occupied for over a year without needing to buy or borrow any books). As such, on each visit, I only purchased a single book. For those who are interested, the first was “Love in the Time of Cholera” (Marquez) and the second was “All the Light We Cannot See” (Doerr). I will be extremely surprised if I get around to even starting either of these before the end of the year, so please don’t hold your breath for a review/post on these.
There were plenty of other choices I considered (I could have gotten plenty more books with the gift card) but I forced myself to just select one each time. It was an agonising decision. At some point, however, I did have the thought that I must be pretty lucky if “what book to buy” is the hardest decision I am faced with today.
Apart from wanting to read the book, I also consider a number of other factors when deciding what book(s) to buy. Let’s see what sort of a list I can compile here…
- Re-read value: If I buy a book, it should be something that I will want to re-read (whether I actually ever re-read it is an entirely different matter)
- Share value: If I might not necessarily re-read it, I’d like to be able to recommend and lend it to friends, so, in making my decision, I also consider if it is a book that my book-loving friends would read.
- Aesthetics: Yes, I can be a bit shallow when it comes to books. Of course, this criteria is less important than the first two. It applies more for books that have a number of different editions, and hence a number of different covers.
- Library availability: If a book is always available at my usual library, I probably won’t bother buying my own copy. However, if a book is always available (or mostly available) but the book itself is really long, I will consider a purchase.
- Friend libraries: Similar to above: If I know that a friend has a copy of a book I’d like to read, and I know they’re happy to lend it to me, I will not buy my own copy (the book would also have decreased “share value” since I wouldn’t really be able to share it with someone who already has a copy)
- Text size: I don’t currently need glasses, but I feel like I’m going to need some pretty soon. Small text puts too much strain on my eyes, so I’d prefer larger text. However, I’d say this isn’t really an important criteria – more of a bonus than anything else.
- Quotability: I may be more inclined to buy books that have gotten a lot of great reviews, or books that other people (maybe fellow bloggers) quote from a lot. Similarly, if I think that I may want to have a certain book on-hand in future so that I can extract quotes or just generally refer back to something, I am more likely to buy the book.
- Potential sentimentality: I can be ridiculously sentimental sometimes, so I’m more inclined to buy a book if I reckon I will get attached to it (even if I never re-read it)
Well, ok, that list turned out a bit longer than I was expecting it to… But at least now it’s a bit clearer why I had to agonise over a book purchase for a whole hour. And there are probably even more criteria I could add to the list (but I won’t right now because it’s late (past midnight now) and I’m tired).
And, believe it or not, this wasn’t what I had originally planned to write this post about. This is actually a tangent. A tangential post. Hmm… maybe I can make that “a thing”… Anyway, I’m too tired to write the actual post now, so this tangential post will just have to do for the time being.
Things I have done so far this afternoon:
- Finished reading ‘Atonement’ by Ian McEwan (dedicated post on this to come in the next few days – just need to let everything sink in first)
- Re-watched the movie ‘Atonement’ (I watched it when it originally came out, which was a very long time ago, so I thought it’d be good to re-watch it, especially since I just finished the novel)
- Sat around staring into space completely gobsmacked by the enormity of the story that is ‘Atonement’
- Walked around the house, uncharacteristically relishing this heat just because there seems to be something poetic about it – the heat itself, that is (it’s above 30C today even though it’s only early October; not humid, though, thankfully)
- Ate a Snickers ice-cream thing, which was essentially a Snickers bar with ice-cream instead of nougat. (It was delicious!)
- Asked myself many, many times if I should go for a run, or allow myself a rest day so that I can run further tomorrow.
- Switched on my laptop to retrieve files to transfer to “new” computer (post on this also likely to follow some time in the near future)
- Contemplated what is to become of my old laptop (I’ve had it for almost eight years)
- Actually apologised to my laptop because I’m not sure I will have further use for it (well, not very often, anyway), and promised it that I would write a post in its honour.
- Considered writing a post about something worthwhile (e.g. ‘Atonement’, the footy finals, the dry heat, my old laptop, etc) and then decided I wasn’t up to the task because my mind is still lost in the world of ‘Atonement’
- …and then wrote this instead.
I read an article the other day about finding purpose in life. I read it partly because I was bored, and partly because I was a bit curious to see if it was actually going to offer some decent advice, as it wasn’t from any of the usual sites that people share articles from.
I don’t actually remember anything from the article (pretty sure this was over a week ago…) except the last question it posed: If you only had one year left to live, what would you do differently?
I thought that that was an interesting question. One year is long enough to accomplish something significant, but not too long that long-term consequences really matter. Of course, the assumption is that you’re practically invincible for this one, final year – otherwise, I (and I assume plenty of others) would probably become more risk-averse, and hence not want to do anything with high risk of mortality/morbidity.
But I didn’t really like how the question implies that most people would change a lot of things in their final year, so I created a converse question: If you only had one year left, what would you do the same?
Ok, so the original question is good for people wanting to re-focus on what’s really important in their lives, and for people who need a bit of a nudge to actually do the things that make them feel happy/inspired/fulfilled, etc. But sometimes you also have to recognise and appreciate the things that are already good. I found it more satisfying to ponder my question than the original one (although I have realised that the original question is an all-too-convenient excuse to buy things I don’t really need (but that’s arguable) and to eat more cake).
So, after some thought, I’ve put together a list of (some of) the things that I would not change if I knew I had exactly one year left to live:
- Work: This is probably one of the things that people consider first when asked a question like this (along with questions about winning large sums of money). Maybe I’d move to part-time hours, but I’d still go to work – up until the last couple of months at least.
- Run: I don’t think there’s much need to explain this. I like running. I see no reason to stop or reduce how much I run in this hypothetical scenario.
- Read: I would still read novels, but perhaps just be more selective with which ones I read. One I’d definitely want to finish is Dickens’ “David Copperfield”. I guess that’s next on my reading list then…
- Write: After having this blog for so long, I’d feel weird stopping it suddenly. Besides, despite the irregularity of my posts (timing, content, style, etc), I do like to write. I can’t imagine not writing for a year.
And, of course, there are several other things, but I reckon those are the main ones.