Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Proof, no pudding AKA Free Books For You

Hello eleven readers plus stragglers,

There was a time when I didn't think this was a problem. A surplus of books? Jeepers, cry me a river, Oxbridge. I was a bibliophile and the people who scanned my many bookshelves, blinked and said 'Have you really read all of these?' just Didn't Get It. The point wasn't that I'd read them all but that I would eventually, once the perfect mood, the perfect infinitesimal requirements of readership fell into place. The point was that my library was there, always waiting for me.

I'm ashamed to say I find the sight of this actually physically comforting.

Internet, this is bullshit. I work in the Book Industry. I can't tell you where because I'll get sacked (seriously, there was a whole meeting about it and everything) but the upshot is that over my nearly two years of employment, I have brought home hundreds of books to add to the hundreds of books I already owned.

I'm drowning.

I think a lot of people who love books live this way, this lovely aesthetic-based lie. The spines on the books we acculmulate tell the story of what we deem to be our best selves. It rarely mirrors our actual reading, which while voracious, is much more fly-by-night, spontaneous and pleasure-based. I've seen this a lot with people (like me) who come from non-reading families and are the first person in the entire family tree to go to university. We construct this insane collegiate persona where all reading is good reading and our fancy intellectual intentions count for as much as the act of reading itself.

Enough is enough. I am prepared to stop pretending I'm fucking Harold Bloom.
And you can punctuate that sentence any way you wish.

The problem is that Ebay isn't really the place for bibliophiles, or at least bibliophiles who want to make significant coin - I've blogged a little about the few books I've put up for sale and the truth is none of them, except for the signed Jackie Collins have sold. It's a little depressing. Added to this, I have stacks, mounds, mountains of proof copies that I can't (on aforementioned pain of job loss) sell on for profit. I have so many books that I liked the look of, or wanted desperately to be the kind of person that *would* read that kind of book, that I could construct a fairly decent and watertight fort.

I could take the proofs back to work - but I know they'd get instantly pulped and I know charity shops don't like to take them on account of your garden variety proof copy being a homely beast and non-too-sturdy, all of which makes them difficult to shift from a retail perspective. Tell me about it, Oxfam.

To that end, I have decided to offer them up to the teeny portion of the internet that reads this thing - Twitter too. I'm going to start small and offer a clean thirteen copies of various novels and non-fiction titles in proof copy form that I've either read, or frankly, am never going to read.

Here's a selection of what I'm offering, with links to Amazon for fuller plot synopses:

Midsummer Nights - Editor: Jeanette Winterson. Short stories based on opera plots from ace people like Jackie Kay, Andrew O'Hagan and Ali Smith - UNREAD. I love these authors but really? Opera plots? Really? The least interesting thing about opera? That's your book?

Generation A by Douglas Coupland - Limited edition numbered proof, as if that means anything close to jack - READ. Well curate's egg-y. Will review.

Love & Obstacles by Aleksandar Hemon. Novel from polyglot wunderkind of ilk that makes everyone sick with envy. UNREAD. BASTARD.

Newspeak in the 21st Century - Non Fiction. Essays on media culture. UNREAD. Because part of me stubbornly refuses to find the time to be informed.

Fordlandia - Non Fiction. Chosen primarily and shamefully for its exquisite cover, rendered super small on the front, which speaks of a beatific small-town tranquility that pushes all my David Lynch-y (and secretly unironic) cheese buttons. Have since acquired actual book and, of course, it remains UNREAD

Ablutions by Patrick Dewitt - Novel. UNREAD. Drunks. Despair. Lyricism. Cheap cheap paper.

Alien Hearts by Guy de Maupaussant - The kind of novel that I want to read in a park looking sexy, pseud-y and utterly unattainable but never will. I am also utterly attainable.

The Thoughtful Dresser by Linda Grant - READ and LOVED in parts. I obtained an actual published copy. This proof is battered like an old pro from surfing around in my handbag for weeks.

The Complete Cosmocomics by Italo Calvino. UNREAD. See also: 'Alien Hearts'. Calvino and I have never seen eye to eye, no matter how many rabbits he pulls.

Making An Elephant by Graham Swift. Essay. Mostly UNREAD. Books on the writer's craft are the procrastinator's porn. Still, Swift and I don't get on, so on it goes.

SO: if you want any of these books,you can and FOR FREE. All I ask is that if you're outside Norwich that you pay for postage so I don't go insanely broke.

Just e-mail me at rebecca_wigmore at the hotmail with the dot com. First come, first served. Points for reviews, witty conversation and general human interaction.

I await you,

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