Too Many Books?

From John William’s Stoner, our hero: “Sometimes, immersed in his books, there would come to him the awareness of all that he did not know, of all that he had not read; and the serenity for which he labored was shattered as he realized the little time he had in life to read so much, to learn what he had to know.

Why, yes, Professor Stoner. I know exactly how you feel. But with definitely more panic, the occasional anxiety attack, and—once during a train ride—absolute fear that I was never going to whittle down—demolish?—the TBR Mountain Range.

And why not add to all that with books acquired precisely because of the already existing OhMyGahSasha of “Oh god, so many books, so little time”? Never mind that there are already stacks upon stacks of books threatening to collapse on me as I sleep? Sure, why not?

From the 29th of July all the way to the 21st of August. National Bookstore and sister bookstores Powerbooks and A Different Bookstore are having their annual ridiculous book sale. Which means I am penniless within that period, and a few weeks after. Which means my boyfriend already had to assemble two more shelves for the bedroom. Sigh. Is something wrong with this picture?

Anyhoo, here’s what I have amassed. Four of them were freebies from National Bookstore, but the rest were acquired the old fashioned way (swooping at books, nudging unsuspecting browsers aside, and crying at the counter afterwards):



Books I’ve wanted for a really [for some: really, really] long time:

  • Half a Life, by Darin Strauss. – Haven’t been reading many memoirs lately. I’ve read an excerpt of this book a while back, and I’m curious. Plus, I love how compact it feels in my hands.
  • The World According to Garp, by John Irving. – I’ve read this before, when I was much younger; my mother had a cheap paperback that was falling apart. I remember loving the heart of this book, even though I’m sure I couldn’t have thought that then. And it’s a gorgeous edition.
  • The Glass Room, by Simon Mawer. – I’ve wanted this book about architecture and art and love and a married couple and a house for three years now, okay?
  • The Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett. – Like the Irving, I’ve also read this before too. Thanks to my mother’s copy, again. However, I distinctly remember that when she asked me what I thought of it, and me saying that I liked it but I skipped all the parts involving the building of them pesky cathedrals, she gasped as though I’d slapped her: “But that’s the best part! How could you!”
  • Lit, by Mary Karr. – My mother (again) left The Liars’ Club lying around, and I (of course) swooped down to read it when she wasn’t looking. That book’s remained as Sasha Canon. I’ve waited to get a copy of this for the longest time. Thank you for being ridiculously cheap.

  • The End of the Story, by Lydia Davis. – I had a surfeit of Lydia Davis last year, but I continue to have faith in her writing. As long as I don’t read her in a thousand-page, redundant-as-hell dose.
  • Autobiography of Red, by Anne Carson. – There will be more Anne Carson in my life, let me assure you. [Am currently trying to write something about my most recent read of hers, Eros the Bittersweet. Trying, and failing.]
  • Enough About Love, by Hervé Le Tellier. – Oh my goodness, I’ve been lusting over this book ever since I stumbled upon it in the Other Press online catalogue. And now I have it. And I’ve read it, and it’s amazing. I could kiss the NBS buyer for this, seriously. Plant ‘er a big one.
  • Like Life, by Lorrie Moore; and Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage, by Alice Munro. – These are like Supreme Goddesses of Short Fiction is SashaLand. It’s crazy how much awe and admiration and hero-worship I have for these two. Ugh, I get the chills just looking at them now in my shelves, glowing with awesomeness. And not just because of the light bouncing off the plastic wrap.

* * *

Books I’ve heard good things about, and so, when I saw them on sale for ridiculous prices, I got ‘em:

  • State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett. – Ah, but it was a disaster.
  • Started Early, Took My Dog, by Kate Atkinson. – No, I didn’t know that this was technically part of a series. I actually thought this was a book of essays. Consider me well-informed, yes?
  • The Whole Five Feet, by Christopher R. Beha. – A book about reading books!
  • Swamplandia!, by Karen Russell. – Never got into the hoopla surrounding this, mostly because I had no copy of the book. Well, now I have a copy of the book.
  • The Emperor of All Maladies, by Siddhartha Mukherjee. – Because cancer is too present, and I like to arm myself with literature when having to confront it.

  • The Thieves of Manhattan, by Adam Langer. – A book about writers and publishing! Hopefully, this won’t mirror the yucky-ness of one book-about-writers-and-publishing impulse buy.
  • The Golden Notebook, by Doris Lessing. – Though I can’t say I’ve always wanted to read the author, I did get curious reading the back of the book.
  • Gourmet Rhapsody, by Muriel Barbery. – I read The Elegance of the Hedgehog and last year, though I was wary of reading this one, because food and I have a casual relationship, at best. Still, it was there. I had to get it, haha.
  • Either/Or, by Søren Kierkegaard. – I studied this guy in college, during one of the many required philosophy courses. And I read this dude translated to the Filipino language. That’s an achievement right there. Ya know, I love philosophy; I don’t necessarily like thinking, but I do appreciate the required reading. Wanted to try him out without the classroom atmosphere, before I lost my nerve.
  • The Lake, by Banana Yoshimoto. – Also a disaster.

* * *

Books I have not ever heard about, but I decided to give in to impulse because, damn, I am reckless like that:

  • Two novels by Julie Anne Long. – Because she was everywhere in the bookstore. Haven’t tried her, but then I realized I haven’t really tried new historical romance novelists lately. [Although I just found out that these aren’t stand-alones. Ugh.]
  • The Story of a Marriage, by Andrew Sean Greer. – Because I like stories about marriages. And because, well, I’ve been picking this up and setting it back down again for a year now.
  • Love Today, by Maxim Biller. – Can you count how many books in this post have the word “love” in the title?
  • I Knew You’d Be Lovely, by Alethea Black. – One of my favorite short story writers [and one most influential to how I try to write my stories], Joan Silber, wrote a blurb for this. I trust her.
  • The Forty Rules of Love, by Elif Shafak. – Who, by the way, has been accused of plagiarism. I, personally, don’t have an opinion, because, for one, it’s in Turkish. Full details here.
  • The Story of Beautiful Girl, by Rachel Simon. – This might be a little too Hallmark Channel-y for me. So, I’m waiting for a Hallmark Channel-y mood. Because, trust me, that’ll come.
  • Mr. Peanut, by Adam Ross. – Because, come on, when Mr. Stephen King tells you a book is good, a book is going to be just that.
  • The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Terror and Beauty of Science, by Richard Holmes. – I saw this on the shelf, and had to stop myself from screaming, “You need to be in my life!” I only vaguely know what it is about, still.

I don’t know what scares me more: Going through all this without guilt, or the fact that there’s still a week left more to the sale, haha. [Oh my goodness, I haven’t even been to the NBS’ sister company, A Different Bookstore.] [Friends from this widdle archipelago, if you see a tall, bespectacled, curly-haired bag of bones trolling the bookstores, elbowing other customers aside, glaring at them inconsiderate fools who throw books back down on the table—please, say Hi. I wish I could tell you to restrain me, but, well, things might get messy.]

Please feel free to lecture me in the comments. Or guilt-trip me, at least, for buying all these books. Or, well—have you guys read any of these?

10 thoughts on “Too Many Books?

  1. What a great haul! I wish I could report back to you on how good/great these are….but the sad fact is, many of them are in my own TBR pile (aka Mount NeverRest). Including, coincidentally, “Stoner.” That’s a great quote, by the way. I’m going to apply it to my own skin like a Band-Aid over those wounds I keep making while stabbing myself with guilt for all the books I’ve yet to read (but cannot find/make time for).

  2. Wow–you got some great books! Pillars of the Earth is wonderful. I have The Glass Room and have heard good things about it but haven’t read it. Mr Peanut has been on my wishlist since it came out!

  3. Oh my word, what a stash! My eyes went O_O when I read on your tumblr that the total numbered 29. Kind of in shock, kind of jealous. I haven’t read any of the above titles, but have heard of Pillars of the Earth and how it’s supposed to be good. Enjoy your new books! I look forward to hearing about them.

  4. The Thieves of Manhattan is awesome – but I also really liked How I Became a Famous Novelist, which you clearly didn’t. Pillars of the Earth and Garp – love that you’ve already read them but picked them up anyway to add to your collection. That sounds somehow familiar. ;)

    Very nice haul!

  5. Read “HALF A LIFE” immediately! You are forbidden from not loving it. This is an awesome haul, but I think it says wonders for how many unread books I own (that I really want to be reading) that it doesn’t tempt me to sneak a visit to the bookstore.

  6. First, this makes me feel SO much better about my splurge over the weekend; at least we have each other to justify our ridiculous habits, right? And your mom is right: you must, MUST go back and read the cathedral-building bits in Pillars of the Earth. I usually struggle to visualize things when they’re described like a blueprint, but Follett was so good that I could see everything! I borrowed Half a Life from the library and am intrigued as well!

  7. Hi Sasha! I looove your Book Dump posts! It’s so great that you bought “Enough About Love” and love it. The first time I saw it, I actually thought of your post on “On Love” by Alain de Botton. And it was one of the reasons I decided to buy it :)

  8. I have the Doris Lessing book on my pile too. For the very same reasons.

    Also, I am glad I am not the only person who goes crazy at a booksale.

    Also also, I now feel that “The Age of Wonder” has to be in my life too.


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