Books are my vice, I read and hoard and hope to read and maybe will one day have the time to read, the yards that stretch, lining up in wait on bookcases.
Like my time, my shelves are not endless and this morning once again I try to collect them into order. But I remember colour, themes, style and characters; authors names and titles are far harder to recall, and library systems unlovely. So how to categorise?
It’s a problem that has been struggled with at least since Aristotle, and I’m fascinated by analyses of people such as Paul Cartledge, that suggest categories define and shape how we think, with binaries – usually us and them – prevalent in several cultures.
Back to my shelves and ‘themes’ seems the way to go. First though, must depart the books I’ve read and I think will no longer speak to me in a future re-reading. I’m disquieted by the amount left that are ‘colonial’ but, put them alongside those of ‘pioneers’, writing of travel and the wide open spaces, and they become something else. Alongside migrant stories of ‘London’ they shift again, an attempt to traverse the ways of this new world and connect the peoples in it.