I'm beginning to wonder why I buy so many more books than I can read. Is it childhood trauma? Is reading a wall between myself and the world? Is it a result of having all my books taken from me by my 5 bawling and mewling siblings? I keep buying myself these presents to fill a gaping psychological void - where my heart should be, I suspect.
So what's come in this week? Well, it's a big pile of Things Gone Wrong books: dystopias, post-apocalypses, failed states, and failed hopes. Hmm, maybe psychoanalysing my bookshelves is a bad idea.
Although the fault also lies with my colleagues. The problem with working alongside polymathic, curious (in both senses) people is that the bastards always talking about things they've read. I'll nod as though I have a clue what they're talking about, while surreptitiously dialling up certain well-known online book emporia. The volume arrives, and I hope that erudition oozes out of it and into me in a form of logorrheic osmosis. It's just happened again - a learned reader of this very post Tweets with a suggestion (Ash by Mary Gentle), and I'm too weak to resist… And oh look, it's 1000 pages long. I despair, I really do.
Colson Whitehead's witty literary zombie satire, Zone One;
Ian Donaldson's new biography of Ben Jonson;
Ian R MacLeod's 1940s alternative history, Wake Up and Dream in which failed actor turned private eye Clark Gable watches the US drift towards Nazism;
Moira Young's Blood Red Road, another in the seemingly endless cascade of teen dystopian history novels (The Road for teens);
yet another one, centred on surveillance (much on my mind at the moment), Lauren McLaughlin's Scored;
and another one, Robert Swindell's Brother in the Land;
Joan Aiken's The Wolves of Willoughby Chase;
the new Murakami, IQ84, which comes in two volumes;
Norman Davies' massive history of forgotten European states, Vanished Kingdoms;
the new Library of Wales reprint of one of my favourite novels, Gwyn Thomas's All Things Betray Thee;
Marc Augé's Non-Places: An Introduction to Supermodernity: dystopic in its presentation of an urban architecture which erases community, complexity, history and culture.
And it's only Tuesday… this really has to stop.