Ultra Book Guilt

(apologies if this post makes no sense, by the way, I’m speed-writing it after spending a solid three hours finishing today’s Twelve Days Of Christmas story)

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This is the big-ass pile of books in my room at home (because I’ve moved home for Christmas) and a few plushies I wasn’t bothered to move for the purposes of framing this shot; but the books are the focus here, because I want to make the point that I have, like, ultra book guilt.

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of book guilt, allow me to introduce you to Kristina Horner, blogger, vlogger, actor, and general Internetter, who mentioned this idea in this video; essentially, the idea is that we buy a load of books, and then never get around to reading them, and end up feeling horribly guilt that we’ve spent money, but more importantly registered interest in a world or a narrative, but never followed that interest up by actually reading the damn thing, which means we’re basically teasing our own minds by going ‘Here’s a thing you’re interested in, buddy! But I’m never gonna let you find out what happens to those characters or to that world!’

I know a lot of the books in the picture are unhelpfully turned to one side (the Internet won’t judge me for my choices of literature, at least), but I’ll run through a few highlights of what I’m missing out on: first is the almighty red tome of Christopher Paolini’s Eldest over on the right, the second in the Inheritance Cycle, a series of four books that starts with Eragon, which is very like the Percy Jackson books in that the text is fun, but the film adaptation sucks donkey balls.

And while I’ve read Eragon, I was but a young warthog, so need to reread it, and I never got through Eldest because I was a child at the time and books that size tended to be Bibles or Final Fantasy instruction manuals, so I developed an irrational fear of thick books, which as stopped me from getting into a story with dragons and farms and small beginnings and shit, which is a problem.

Next is the Alex Rider series, a great couple of books by Anthony Horowitz about a fourteen-year-old reluctant spy, who has a level of maturity – both in terms of being a freaking spy at fourteen, and the fact that he has enough worldly knowledge to want to fit into society and have a normal life, prompting the series’ defining line ‘most schoolboys dream of being spies, here we have a spy who dreams of being a schoolboy’ – I don’t really have at eighteen. I’ve read the series horribly out of sequence, reading something dumb like the first, second, sixth, fifth, then seventh books in that order, despite having like all ten. A whole-series (re)read is badly needed.

Fans of particular editions of Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy series will notice all five books in the series off to the left of the screen, all in one edition; I’ve only read the first book in the series, loved it, and so logically never touched another one, including the sixth bonus book by Eoin Colfer, so I need to get on with those at some point.

Speaking of Eoin Colfer, his most well-known work, Artemis Fowl, can be seen six books from the top of the right-most tower, which is another series I started, read a few of the books out of sequence, and abandoned, much to my annoyance. What I do remember about the titular Artemis, though, is that I’ve basically felt increasingly relatable to him as my life has progressed: first, he was the smart, but small individual pulling the strings behind a much larger and more elaborate plot, much like scrawny thirteen-year-old James was, lonely and constantly scheming about intricate ways to bring about the end of mankind; then he was the evil prick who wasn’t particularly charismatic but was still interesting and likeable enough to weave a narrative around, which was basically sixteen-year-old James, who was also a dull prick but was personable enough to actually start making friends; then there’s the fact that he’s named after an Ancient Greek goddess, which experimental eighteen-year-old James can relate to as he becomes increasingly infatuated with, jealous of, and considering trying out the awesome pink hair of Ariel from Icon For Hire.

But the big source of guilt is Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, an eight-book epic I’m five books through, and have all eight (in a few weeks when the seventh actually arrives in the mail) in these piles somewhere; the series is immensely long, mind-probingly complex and thoughtful, but unbearably slow in places – the fifth book, for instance, is like Tristram Shandy, or Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy: it takes 600 pages (or three films) to say what could be said in a hundred pages (or, like a two-part TV special at the absolute longest). And what with the bajillion things I keep telling myself to do for no apparent reason and at the frequent detriment to my health at the moment (seriously, I’m now taking two-hour ‘writing naps’ in the middle of the day after a writing session, after which I wake up, get buzzed on Red Bull and Diet Coke, then bang out 2,000 words an hour for the rest of the evening), I don’t think I’ll have a lot of time to get through them. I’m sure I’ll have time in Summer though (along with getting a job, writing a novel, relearning bass guitar, earning a driver’s licence and maybe interrailing).

Let me know of any book guilt you may have too, so we can bask in each other’s failings as human beings!

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