Your wildest desire?
No, OK, not a night with Cleopatra or Empress Theodora or Catherine of Russia (why are we always so fascinated by racy women?)
Something actually possible.
Try this one out for size: unlimited credit in the largest bookstore on the planet.
Boy, I’d go nuts with that.
And I just got the next best thing: a fat gift card on Amazon.
And being a good guy at heart, and money being tight, I decided to invest a fraction in a gift for a friend, and then look for something real cheap for me.
I ended up getting a cartload of books.
And is there something better than getting a ton of good books to read?
Obviously, it’s telling your friends what great books you just bought.
First, the rationale about my gift idea – there are books, paper books, that cost less than a happy birthday card.
Case in point – the Wordsworth Classics books.
Granted, they are printed on cheap paper and the covers are nothing to write home about, but they are perfect travel books. Indeed I started buying them when I was a student, to carry in by bag and read between classes.
So, I went through the Wordsworth Classics catalogu, and finally gave in to the temptation and got me a copy of The Count of Montecristo, a novel I positively hated when I attacked it in high school in its Italian version. But let’s admit it, there is something exquisitely perverse in reading Dumas père in English. The massive 1000 pages book will be delivered tomorrow, and I’m sure it’s worth the whole 2 euro and 40 cents I paid for it.
For my friend’s gift I had set my sights on Virginia Woolf, so I got myself a copy of Mrs Dalloway, again a book I had read in Italian, and a copy of A Room of One’s Own – because I love books about writing written by writers.
Then I just started browsing.
The Endeavour Press catalog is usually quite interesting if you are into history or historical fiction, so I got me a copy of John Gillingham’s The Wars of the Roses, because it’s shorter than Game of Thrones and it’s basically the same story, and a copy of Ernie Bradford’s The Mediterranean, that promises to be quite a read.
Then, running through the also boughts I found a very cheap ebook copy of Tristan Gooley’s The Walker’s Guide to Outdoor Clues & Signs, that I think I’ll keep on my smartphone. I love Gooley’s book about the observation of nature – they are fun to read, and provide a lot of information that can be used to spice up stories.
The same goes for A Classical Education, by Caroline Taggart, that promises to allow me to bluff a knowledge of the classics I do not have. I already have Taggart’s book on grammar and I always found it particularly useful, so this one was a no brainer.
Then I threw in Meddling Kids, that I have mentioned before, and finally, I put on top of these all the first omnibus of the Godstalker novels by P. C. Hodgell, that I have only as ebooks, and sometimes it’s nice to have a solid paperback on the nightstand.
Not a bad haul, all in all.
And I also remembered to buy a gift for my friend.
Now I only need to find the time to read all this stuff.