Sunday, November 11th, 2007
Do not trouble your hearts overmuch with thought of the road tonight. Maybe the paths that you each shall tread are already laid before your feet, though you do not see them.
–Galadriel, The Lord of the Rings
Aargh! So many books to read! But which one?!
Tolkien’s The Silmarillion just arrived and it is in my hands. With this copy, I now have a complete set Tolkien’s Middle Earth stories. Not just any ordinary set, mind you. It’s a handsome DeLuxe set; except that I open them and read them and soil them, and I put my mark on them. They are well-used and not in collectible condition anymore. But I don’t care. Books are meant to be read.
Then one might ask, “Why spend all the money of such expensive books when there are cheaper versions around?”
In my younger days when I was reading comics, I was caught in the stream of comic collecting. But after a while, I figured that it was a waste of my time. I was buying comics to read, consume and forget. For me, comics provided a means of escapism from the rigours of education (and homework). So the idea of buying multiple copies of the same magazines only to store them in plastic bags–sometimes in acid free mylars–was beyond me. Plus, I was yet in the category of money earners so the whole notion of buying a carrot just to dangle it in front of me as if I was a donkey, seemed absurdly stoopied. Sure, one would argue about the potential rise in value, and the kind of money I could make in the future. But I was more of a now kind of person. I admit that the speculative nature did consume my soul a bit, but I learned the errors of my ways quickly and soon lived a less desirous life. There are indeed more important things in life. Now that I do make a little money from the work that I do, the interest in comics has waned. I still buy a copy or two every once in a while, but the need for escapism into a superhero world is no longer present. Perhaps that is one reason why I do not look forward to the recent slew of superhero movies (when in my younger days I would have clamoured for more more more and more). Then again, I remember being more excited that certain artists–like Sienkiewicz, McKean, Mazuchelli, Miyazaki, Moebius (wow, that’s a lot of Ms)–were drawing certain comics than the stories and titles.
Instead of the fantastical world comics provide, I have shifted to books. But not just any book. The bane of learning how to read critically because of my professional training in the academia world is that I find too few books (or films for that matter) to my liking. I am pretty selective. I don’t buy a book just because everyone else is reading it. Case in point: the Harry Potter books. I buy the books that I hope I will really enjoy. And keep (not collect like speculators do). Thus, the hardcovers. But the truth is: I don’t like paperbacks much. I’ll avoid them if I can. Most paperbacks use paper of lower quality. The pages turn yellow and age far too soon. The font size is often too small. It’s usually too light–there is something about having a little weight in my hands. And I sleep with my books, so I have a tendency to squash the covers. (Hmm… I seem to have written about this somewhere before. But I guess I just need to remind and reassure myself of why I buy hardcover books).
Anyway, I am so tempted to read The Silmarillion now! So why shouldn’t I?
Well, I’m in the middle of so many books I don’t know what to do. I have not read My Name is Red for more than two months already (and the story, which is actually quite captivating, is slowly fading away). The reading of C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia is moving too slowly; the reading of this book depends on the ears of others. And my reading of The Lord of the Rings has slowed to a trickle, too (but that’s because I know the story, and is in no rush to find out what happens to the various characters). I have the two scholarly books about Tolkien’s The Hobbit sitting on my bookshelf–waiting for me to have the time and proper frame of mind to read them. I’ve just started reading about Elizabeth Hawley two days back. Add to that, Maurice Herzog’s Annapurna is a few days away from my doorsteps. And the book about Hermann Buhl’s first ascent of Nanga Parbat is still somewhere in the world… coming (After reading his climb in Messner’s The Naked Mountain, I felt that his climb would be one amazing read). And I’ve been dreaming of the Easton Press’ signed leather bound edition of Hillary’s High Adventure, the book about the account of his ascent of Everest!
Decisions. Decisions. Decisions. And they are only about books to read. Haish.
Actually, the answer is pretty clear: Tolkien rules this time!