Heartless Salesperson or Noble Philantrophist? — Hello, I’m Sindhu and I Have a Big Problem

When I told my friends for the first time that my mum asked me to select books that I don’t want and sell them to a second-hand store because I had run out of room for books, a lot of my friends looked at me sympathetically. Some of them looked physically sick at the idea. I felt horrible at the thought at first, but I did it. I did it a couple of times more after that and now I don’t mind at all. It’s true! And yes, I am ready for the brickbats now.

I realize now that my discomfort at the idea had more to do with the thought of sorting through my many books than with actually giving some of them away. Because I’m a lazy fuck who hates sorting and cleaning with the passion of a thousand burning suns. (10 Things I Hate About You? Anybody?) I wouldn’t admit that to myself initially, but I know it’s true.

Firstly, I don’t mind borrowing books from a friend. I haven’t ever had an obsessive need to “own” a book unless it’s one I truly adore and want to reread repeatedly.

But, you’ll discover very quickly, if you haven’t already, I’m obsessive in a number of other ways. I read with a determination bordering on obsession. I carry a book with me EVERYWHERE. I have offended friends by bringing a book to dinner dates with them. “How boring do you think we’re going to be?” But I can’t stop myself.

You can only imagine how obsessively I buy books. I have called it a distinct pleasure from actually reading books in the past.  My little 7X7 hostel room is cluttered with about a hundred books. “Why don’t you take some of them home?” people ask me. The answer is that I do take 10 or so books home each time I go home. But I also bring them back in large numbers. And I buy new books. A lot. I also have my parents carry books back each time they visit. But the process of bring-back-books-and-buy-even-more never stops.

I have a pretty sweet deal in a second-hand bookstore I’ve worked in before. I can go trade in books for new books. He gives me a twenty percent mark-up if I trade books and not ask for cash, and he gives me a twenty-five percent employee discount! This is the best thing, because, while I have to give away books, I get to come back with brand new ones (Well, some are second-hand, but you get the idea!) so I’m happy, and they’re always fewer in number than the ones I’ve sold so my mum is also happy. And as the owner of the store points out, such understandings ensure that the stock in his store is in circulation instead of stagnating. Stagnation is a very real problem of chain bookstores, I’ve noticed, because, a lot of the time, the only new books they get in are new releases. (Also, a lot of chain bookstores have begun to stock only popular and well-known books in addition to any number of absurd self-help and “management” books which make me want to throw up. But that’s a rant for another day.)

And now, I’m panicking. I’m in my fourth year and I’m in a five-year course. That means that the books need to start going and they need to stop coming in at some point before the start of the next academic year. –sob-

And I can’t carry them to my hometown, where the aforementioned bookstore is, because of the luggage weight limits on the damned planes. I’ve considered couriering them home and I will do that with my favourites, but at the beginning of the next academic year, I will have a book sale in my college and give my books away to my juniors for cold hard cash! The thought that I will have to part with so many books at once without even the immediate comfort of new ones is heartbreaking. But I will do it. I know I need to. And I will take comfort in the thought that my books will go into eager hands and result in many happy hours for yet another person.

In 1710, the Statute of Anne, the first copyright Act in the world was passed with the over-arching aim of the “encouragement of learning”. That phrase has been ringing in my ears ever since I heard it in my intellectual property law class because of its simplicity and effectiveness.(Unlike a lot of legal concepts which are lacking in both)  Wouldn’t selling my books be a way to encourage learning?

I love my books because each one of them has shaped me as a person, has helped me to develop and express my thoughts, and has, most importantly, made me very, very happy. There are some which I will reread repeatedly, when I am alone and need the comfort of an old friend, but I will spend most of my time reading new books and soaking up what they have to offer. Keeping all my books seems to me to be unnecessary hoarding, considering I own so many of them, mostly thanks to the generosity and understanding of my parents. My mum gave me a credit card for “emergencies and books”. Her logic was that books are always emergencies anyway. (<3) I know that not everyone is as fortunate as me. Second hand books and libraries are the best solutions for such people. One day, I will start a library. One day, I will write books and donate copies to libraries. One day, I will be a lawyer always, always on the side of fair use and public interest. Until then, my little book sale will hopefully contribute towards the “encouragement of learning”.

Besides, when one hasn’t a choice but to sleep with books on one’s BED, one’s only alternatives are divine intervention or a book sale!

How And Why To Keep A “Commonplace Book”

After absolute ages, I found an excellent, well-referenced, intelligent article in Thought Catalog. I want to share it with those of you who don’t visit the website, as well as those of you who have given up on it. 🙂

Thought Catalog

The other day I was reading a book and I came across a little anecdote. It was about the great Athenian general Themistocles. Before the battle of Salamis, he was locked in a vigorous debate with a Spartan general about potential strategies for defeating the Persians. Themistocles was clearly in the minority with his views (but which ultimately turned out to be right and saved Western Civilization). He continued to interrupt and contradict the other generals. Finally, the Spartan general threatened to strike Themistocles if he didn’t shut up and stop. “Strike!” Themistocles shouted back, “But listen!”

When I read this, I immediately began a ritual that I have practiced for many years–and that others have done for centuries before me–I marked down the passage and later transferred it to my commonplace book. Why? Because it’s a great line and it stood out to me. I wrote it…

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Book Review — I Capture The Castle

Yes, a book review post at long last! Hurrah!

Disclaimer: This is a young adult book, which might or might not be your cup of tea, so read the pot at your own discretion. It’ll make me happy if you read it though. :3

In one of my earlier posts, I lamented that I had to study Corporate Law instead of reading I Capture the Castle. Not easily deterred by the pile of work I have, however, I managed to procure the book and finished reading it. And I’m glad I did.

I first heard of this book in Jacqueline Wilson‘s My Secret Diary, which is an autobiography of her teenage years. I read it years ago, of course, but I still have vivid memories of her speaking of this book and wanting to read it. For some reason though, I assumed it’s out of print like Noel Streatfeild‘s books apparently are.

GUYS GUYS GUYS THIS IS FIVE MINUTES LATER AND I HAVE BEEN MINDBLOWN! There are paperback reprints of Noel Streatfeild’s books on flipkart.com and they’re affordable too! Wow, I never loved online book shopping more than I do at this moment! 

I found that out when I did a Google search to link you guys to her.

Yes, to get back to the point, I assumed that book was out of print, BUT IT WASN’T! Dun dun dush! And the rest is history! Well, not really. Not yet, anyway.

One thing I discovered as soon as I opened the book is that the author of this book, Dodie Smith also wrote 101 Dalmatians! My first thought: “Wow, that’s a book?” I know, I know, I’m awful, and have been living under a rock or something, but there it is.

Okay, let’s finally get to the book.

I am somewhat biased towards this book because I’m inclined to like books that are in a “diary” format for some reason. It started, of course, with Anne Frank, but it’s also true for L.M. Montgomery‘s less known Emily series, particularly Emily Climbs. My favourite Jacqueline Wilson book was also Secrets for this very reason. (Although Midnight was a close second)

Naturally, I loved it.

Aside from being somebody’s journal, it’s also beautifully written. The story is interesting and it’s set against the charming backdrop of a crumbling castle and it captures the innocence of childhood perfectly, even though, or perhaps because, it’s done through the eyes of a somewhat precocious teenager.

When I read stories of teenagers who are completely unaware of their charms, or who are completely unaware of the attention they are receiving, it irritates me. I think, “Really? It never once occurred to you?” I feel like it’s something that’s put on to seem modest or unassuming. I often wonder if I’m absurdly over-analytic or if everyone else is as good as I am as feigning ignorance of things they aren’t supposed to know. Good God, I’m digressing again.

My point is, (Yes, I had one) it’s refreshing to have the uncertainty and confusion that comes with being a teenager shown more than forced childishness.

I really adore Cassandra. We could have been friends.

I also felt like the ending was true to life, and achingly simple and beautiful.

More than anything else, I love the title. Being able to capture something in words is every writer’s dream and it’s a utopian ideal that I can’t stop aspiring towards, and it’s heartening to know that Cassandra can’t stop either. Hats off to the author though, for managing to do a great job of it.

Yes, most of my love of this book stems from the writing aspect, which forms a major part of this book, but the other parts about familial worries, love, jealousy, are all also themes which have been ingeniously depicted in this book.

It’s a multi-layered and beautiful YA book which every teenager and 20-something should read. It’s entirely charming and i definitely recommend it to everybody.

Just to make sure I wasn’t biased, I made a friend without literary ambitions read it. She affirms that it’s a lovely book. So there!

Do you guys have any books that you read far too late and still loved? Any beloved books of childhood that you rediscovered recently? Any young adult books that you think I absolutely must read? Let me know.

P.S: To clarify, this isn’t the only book I’ve read recently. To know what I’ve been reading, add me on Goodreads. I’ve begun to document my reading quite religiously on there. To know what I thought of the books I read… Well, that’s a bit more complicated. But I am trying hard to get back into the reviewing groove. Promise.

Cheers

 

Summer Reading Suggestions!

Well, my summer is officially over and I’m still struggling to stop reading and start studying. I’m trying. Promise.

But, for those of you lucky bugs who are on their summer break, or those of you who have taken the year off(*coughtanyacough*), here are some very interesting suggestions that i came across while “doing research” for a project. Ahem. Yes. Don’t look at me like that!

There are a few books on the list that I want to read. I hate my life. Why must I study Corporate law when I could be reading I Capture The Castle?

Anyway, here’s the image of the list. It’s extremely well-organized. 🙂 Enjoy. 🙂

Summer Reading List