to buy or not to buy

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.

Melbourne ’09

Well, as some of you may or may not already know, I was in Melbourne from the 6th to the 24th, so I figured, since I sort of abandoned the internet for that time, I should probably write something about what I did in Melbourne. Ok, so I didn’t totally abandon the internet (that would actually be sort of irresponsible because it’s, like, good etiquette or whatever to check emails regularly and stuff like that), but my use of the internet was quite limited and infrequent.

Alright, I think I’m going to try to get back on topic before I (unintentionally) make this about the internet instead.

So… Melbourne was fun. Actually, to be honest, I think I have mixed feelings about how great a city Melbourne really is. Being proudly Brisbane born and bred has sort of made me intent on finding every other city to be not as great as Brisbane, so I suppose I’m not exactly being objective with my judgement here. And, yeah, I do realise that it would be hard for some/most of you to consider Brisbane to be better than whatever other city/cities you love, but I guess that would just be a greater indication of my pride then.

My main reason for going down to Melbourne was to visit family. (I have a lot of family down there, so it is sort of easier for us to go down to see them rather than for them to all come up to see us.) Consequently, a great part of my time there was spent with family. This time was often spent shopping or eating.

Anyone who has been to Melbourne, or who has even heard of Melbourne would surely know that it is like a shopper’s paradise. After all, it is supposed to be Australia’s “fashion capital”. Personally, I’m not really in to shopping that much, but even I can say that Melbourne shopping is quite good. There are just so many places to go to. I can hardly even begin to list the places we went to, so I’m not going to bother right now.

I suppose Melbourne’s also quite a nice city in terms of their buildings and their streets and stuff. I particularly liked the streets and boulevards and parades that had tree cover all along the entire road such that only specks of sunlight ever got through anywhere. (Not sure if that description will make total sense to people who haven’t seen it before, but, yeah, not sure how to put it – sort of like a tunnel whereby trees make the walls and roof. The only such road I can remember the name of is Highett Street in Richmond.) I would love to see these places as autumn’s coming. If anyone knows a place like this in Brisbane (I can’t think of any at the moment) please tell.

As for the buildings, I suppose the first ones that come to mind are those at that Swanston-Flinders Street intersection: Flinders Street Station, St Paul’s Cathedral, and those buildings around Federation Square. One of my uncles was saying stuff about heritage listed buildings and houses one time when we were driving around, and I guess I can better appreciate the point of heritage-listing things now. I mean, it seems sort of impractical if you’ve had to use a heritage-listed building, but if you’re just visiting (and, I guess, have some appreciation of history), you’re sort of glad that they did preserve it.

I think it would be reasonable to assume that many people would assume that Melbourne’s public transport is of a higher standard than Brisbane’s, but, in my opinion, I think, at best, it’s just on par. Of course, this is probably greatly influenced by there being good public transport around my area. I have become so used to frequent bus services that having to wait more than about 20 minutes for a bus is somewhere in the vicinity of ridiculous.

I will admit, however, that Melbourne’s train services are quite good (I don’t catch the train often enough in Brisbane to do a proper comparison, though). But, even having said that, I reckon every issue of mX I looked through while I was there had “Connex bashing” (as one person put it) in the “Vent your spleen” part. There was always someone with some sort of problem with the train services. As for me, if the seats were all a bit cleaner, I think I would not have so much of a problem with it.

Don’t think I have much of a problem with the trams, though. It’s just weird having to get on and off in the middle of the road. And also that (as I’ve been told) the whole point of the seemingly pointless “hook turn” is so that trams don’t get held up.

Moving on now… I actually quite like how close the beach is to the CBD. Of course, their beaches aren’t that great, but ease of access is nice anyway. Only visited Saint Kilda Beach for a while to have a look around and collect some shells (which I have since misplaced).

And, of course, I couldn’t possibly write an entry about Melbourne without mentioning Breadtop (an Asian bakery chain thing, for those of you unfortunately unacquainted with it). I don’t know what it is about it that I like so much. My uncle actually said he got sick of it after a while, so maybe it’s just the novelty of it for me. For now, anyway, I am eagerly awaiting the day when Breadtop franchises open in Brisbane.