Horace and the paperback

I read my previously mentioned house magazine over lunch, and it wasn’t so much inspiration, as anger, which came over me. And I’m sorry if I’m repeating this ad nauseam, but what is wrong with paperbacks? And how come some people really can’t see that keeping books has to come to an end some time, unless something changes?

They had pages of the most wonderful bookcases, but they forget that ordinary people run out of floor space for more bookcases, or money for some of the more expensive ones. And even if that doesn’t happen, there will always be one book, sooner or later, that won’t fit, because it’s full. I cleared the worst excesses before Christmas, by handing some books over to Oxfam, but mainly by brushing the problem under the carpet on a temporary basis. (Yes, I know. Fairly bulky and uneven for a carpet.)

But for people who aren’t ordinary, like Horace Engdahl of the Swedish Academy, books are a hygiene problem! He’s the one who tells the world each year who gets the Nobel prize for literature. I’m still working on the hygiene aspect of books. One of the magazine’s standard questions, which drives me mad every time (do they know, and do they do it on purpose?), is “Do you keep paperbacks?” Horace keeps them “if they have something sensible in them”.

Why would paperbacks have a less worthwhile content? They may not look good enough to some, but the contents? Even Nobel prize winners have books out in paperback. In fact, when I bought my Pinters years ago, I saw nothing but paperbacks in the shops. His silences are equally powerful without the hard cover.

The next page in the magazine then goes on to show bookshelves for paperbacks. Do they need to be separated? Segregated. Discriminated against. I don’t get it.

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