Where am I going to find the time not to read all of these books?
That is Karl Kraus, by the way. My solution is to periodically reduce the number of books I’m going to have to find the time not to read, using a sort of conveyor-belt approach: every year, besides a dozen or so ‘proper’ new titles, I acquire a couple of boxes’ worth of second-hand books whose objective appeal ranges from the dubious to the very dubious, but that seldom fail to thrill me, especially at the moment of discovery. The main source of these acquisitions, now that Quilters is no longer a bricks and mortar shop, is the yearly fair run by the Wellington’s Downtown Community Ministry out of a sports and concert arena. In the weeks leading up to event, we try to donate a more or less equal number of books in our possession, in order to free up the requisite amount of shelf space.
Rummaging and finding is my joy, but this year I was away when the fair was on, so Justine offered to go. She knows my taste well. Earlier in the year, she even found a bundle of abandoned nautical maps. I have no idea what, if anything, we shall ever do with these, but for now they’re out of the rain.
Some highlights from the returns from the fair.
I think I'm going to have some fun with these.
And especially this.
Other new acquisitions. Left book club titles, always.
Old guidebooks, more maps.
Large, lavish general interest magazines, of the kind that has become pretty much unthinkable nowadays in print.
Then you turn them over, and are reminded of the money that supported them. For trading in old books and other printed materials can be an education into how the economics of knowledge production works.
Dulcis in fundo:
I get to indulge in this pastime twice: first, by actually finding the books, and then again by posting the pictures here for this, my traditional blog-anniversary post.
I’ve been at it for seven years now, and it still gives me a lot of pleasure, and I still believe it’s an activity that makes time, as opposed to taking time. I also continue to owe it all of my other writing opportunities, including what has been not just the highlight of this year but the fulfilment of a long-time aspiration. In a way that is often more overt and conscious than other forms of writing, blogging has always been about forming connections and working – if not directly together – towards broad shared projects with others. Helping to edit the Aotearoa issue of Overland was a personal high point in this respect. If absolutely nothing else, this blog has led me to that. I’m happy.
Another tradition I indulge with this time of the year is the changing of the banner. It began with the illustration by Bert Warter from Bruno Furst’s classic mnemonics manual Stop Forgetting (1940), from which I got the title for this blog.
Then came three successive designs by Shirley Carran.
And finally the one I just retired, by the truly excellent Sarah Laing.
The new artwork is also by Sarah. She gave me several options and I couldn’t resist using more than one.
The final, customary touch: a year of posts in mosaic forms. Thank you for reading, as always.