Books open minds
“You could tell a lot about a man by the books he keeps – his tastes, his interest, his habits.”
― Walter Benjamin
Books are an integral part of my life. I read them, edit them, write them, talk/write about them and collect them, the latter for research and reference purposes. As a result, some get used more than others depending on what I’m currently focusing on. The topics range from World War 1 Africa to world and imperial history, a smattering of works by Lenin, Marx and Mao, novels concerning Africa and others with historical links amongst the classics, education texts from a previous life and religious books (the Bible, Qu’ran and Tanach together amongst others). I wonder what Benjamin would make of that collection?
At any one time, I’ll have 3-4 books scattered around, all being read in different spaces and for different reasons. A glimpse at these indicate what is top of my priority list at the time (not necessarily my preferred selection). But there will always be one I’m reading for pleasure and if I don’t get to read for some time during the week, beware! I’ll be grumpy.
It’s also quite telling how my books are divided – across the library and general room aka study (with no desk). I declined the offer of my librarian sister to ‘Dewey System’ them – I want to be able to find my books! My library is now one of my main work spaces – it’s taken a while to develop this as a space where thinking and work can occur without being distracted by what’s still to be read. It’s a double edged sword – overcoming writer’s block but causing panic at how much is still to be absorbed and consulted. My library’s greatest regret (yes, it has a personality), though, is ending up on the cutting room floor of Searching for Sugarman, that wonderful documentary on the little known musician Rodriguez who had a major impact on white South African culture during Apartheid. Author John Samson was interviewed there for the documentary. I’d hate to think the selection of books caused him not to feature.
Books, music and travel have played their part in sharing ideas. It is through reading diversely supported by visiting different countries that often gets me into trouble for seeing things differently to those I’m with. But yet, true free-thinking remains a challenge – perhaps I should start reading science fiction and fantasy – or maybe I should engage in conversation.
— Painted Brain (@ThePaintedBrain) 31 December 2016