The year of buying no books


‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’ Kurt Vonnegut.

Everything that follows is about books. Books read and unread – and in fact it is the unread ones which have been the catalyst. It is their fault, not mine. I always thought that I have enough books – on bookshelves and stacked on the floor  – to last a lifetime. But this only holds for as long as you keep buying them. Stop buying them and at some point, presumably, you catch up.

This is unappealing – I can’t imagine having to go out and buy a book specially in order to have something to read. If you want to read a book, just reach down to the floor and pick out one you haven’t read before. The carpet is full of them.

And anyway, catching up isn’t the purpose of this exercise. When I finally put my cue in the rack there will still be hordes of books in the house whose spines remain unscathed: I know this because from 1 January 2014 I shall be back stalking Amazon, haunting Oxfam bookshops and perhaps even occasionally paying full price for some volumes at any number of excellent independent bookstores that I shamefully fail to enter often enough.

No, my really big idea is that this year, anno domini 2013, I, Adam Hill, shall not buy a single book. Not one. Well, perhaps the odd one as gifts, but even that could be delegated to a carer.

Instead I will pick up and read the books that I own but have not read: the neglected ones, the old ones, the worthy ones, the dull ones,  the trashy Triad Granada 1970s James Bonds with the bracing, politically incorrect cover photos – and even, I hope, some good ones.

And yes, at some point during the year, I suppose, this means that I will actually finish The Bone People by Keri Hulme. I believe enamel badges are issued to anyone who has achieved this and that thought will keep me going.

So grab an espresso, spark up a Gauloise, set your beret at a sensitive angle, turn Jose Gonzalez down a little, and read on…


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