I love books. Well, to be more precise, I love reading. I have a collection of books which I reach for again and again, never tiring of revisiting familiar places, watching familiar people do familiar things.
Which is why I always collide into an old library axiom: There Is Never Enough Shelf Space. At home, I’ve already converted a quarter of my wardrobe into makeshift bookshelves, with shelves here and there where I can squeeze them, and still books are strewn on my chair and desk, even on my bed (yes, I sleep with books – they’re more comfortable than my laptop). Quite a few are library books, as I try to cut back on purchases till I can afford a bigger space and more shelves (but there will still be Never Enough Shelf Space).
Science fiction and fantasy make up the bulk of my collection, along with interesting children’s fiction, some of which are trickier than you might expect. Try Hexwood, by British writer Diana Wynne Jones. The time loops and twists in plots will set your mind spinning. I read it three times in quick succession before I made full sense of what was going on.
Terry Pratchett is my favourite living author, but I would not recommend new readers to his first few novels, which are very good, but pale in comparison to his later works. There are a number of novels which stand alone very well, without requiring any prior knowledge of the world they are set in. Small Gods is an excellent example, and was my first foray into the hilarious, quirky and amazing Discworld. Mort is another good one, about Death taking on an apprentice.
The rest of my book collection is mainly nonfiction, interesting tidbits of general knowledge, history, science and miscellany. Bill Bryson is one of my go-to authors for such stuff, from travelogues (Notes From a Small Island), to history (A Short History of Nearly Everything), to language (The Mother Tongue: English & How It Got That Way). This brings me to my favourite non-living author, Isaac Asimov. He published too many books for me to recommend; try searching his name in the library catalogue and make sure you’re sitting comfortably. Whether you want to understand chemistry, Shakespeare, or learn some funny jokes, Asimov has written on it all.
In the meantime, I encounter, or am recommended more authors during my frequent sojourns to the bookshop or to Amazon. To me, the best authors are not the ones with original or interesting plots, but the ones who lead me through their imaginary worlds, so that I may look at the real world with new eyes.
And I resign myself, happily, to the fact that I will Never Have Enough Shelf Space.