I doubted my ability to do it, but I finished the last 2.5 hours of the Audible version of Jane Austen’s Emma yesterday. I listened to most of the 14-hour book in 2.3x speed during my morning and afternoon commutes. I never want that much Jane Austen in my life again. I rated it 3 stars on Goodreads because if you like Victorian classic lit, this is probably not a total snoozefest. But if you are like me and firmly planted in the 21st century, there is no reason to read this or anything else in the canon. That’s what I learn with each old boring book I read, the likes of which I will continue to force upon myself because my ego won’t let me stop checking classics off my “read in this lifetime” list. Next up is Mark Twain, which I have much higher hopes for.
One 4-star book I recently read was Ashlee Vance’s biography of Elon Musk. Elon is a total freak of nature who has more drive and ambition than people without mental disorders usually possess. He is possessed by his passion to colonize Mars and create a sustainable future to the point that he’s also a total dick about it. A truly fascinating glimpse into one of today’s most mysterious and ostentatious public figures.
But I impulse-purchased the hardcover Musk book on Amazon late one night and only read it out of procrastination. I’m in a reading slump. I have three other books going on simultaneously, none of which I am super excited about reading, but all of which are admittedly better than Jane Austen. I contemplated creating a “Half-Read Books” list so that I give myself some credit for the book graveyard I seem to be building. I agree it’s a waste of my time, but I just can’t bring myself to goddamn stop! So I read books like this to fill in the gaps and tie me over. Click on that link and tell me: does that even count as a real book? I picked it up at a thrift store last weekend and I’m not upset about it.
Most of the books on my mental to-read list are Kindle books I impulsively bought through BookBub, which I now feel obligated to read so that I can once and for all lose the circa-2009 Kindle and focus on paperbacks. As much as I’ve tried over the years, I just cannot get into reading from a screen. It’s not the same. You know what I mean. And it’s not even that I grew up reading actual books–I never read as a child or adolescent, almost as a rule–so it’s not 90’s nostalgia. It’s just that I like to physically see my progress as I turn the pages. I derive a greater sense of satisfaction and accomplishment in the end when I get to close the book and reshelve it. You just don’t get that feeling with a Kindle.
A thrift store book buying binge is my natural solution to the above problem. It’s what I do when I really don’t want to read what I’m reading. It happens a few times a year and results in some of the most interesting, random books on my shelf. For example, last weekend I picked up a copy of a book called Bullshit and Philosophy, which has 6 reviews on Amazon with a 3.5-star average rating. That is exactly the type of book I would never otherwise think to buy, but here we are. I’ll probably include it as one of the 50 books I read this year.
This morning before our weekend hike I’m going to an Ecothrift that has a pretty large book section. I remember perusing their shelves last year, forcing myself to put away the stack of books in my basket. I wasn’t worn down enough for one of my book buying binges to justify the purchase. Looking back, I’m glad I didn’t buy that $2.99 copy of Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg because several months later, I rated it 2 stars and swiftly returned it to the library.
Last weekend’s thrift adventure also resulted in the hesitant purchase of a new-in-box cupcake maker. The other day I ordered a copy of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. I plan to start my new hobby once it arrives. There is still no reconnaissance plan to avoid becoming massively overweight, but I’m hoping my current Fitbit step-counting obsession will prove an effective counter-attack. Let it be known: I will walk for cupcakes. I will also eat cupcakes to avoid reading boring books.