The analogy that always comes to mind when I think about my affair with books is that of a lady who loves shopping for shoes. Not necessarily because she loves parties or dressing up, but the initial thrill is in the shopping. An almost insatiable desire for more shoes. Different shapes and colours. There is a high possibility that she will end up attending more events than usual because they will be opportunities to enjoy her purchases and combine her many shoes with different outfits. I love buying books (lots of African fiction, football-themed, memoirs of all sorts, music-themed, Behavioural Economics, Christian Apologetics, a bit of general fiction and even a bit of history) and I have always felt an unexplainable thrill in bookshops. It is only reasonable that I manage to read them. In traffic during my morning commute, in the evenings (usually with a glass of beer and something spicy and meaty from Glover Court), after tucking the missus to bed, briefly in bed before dozing off and over the weekends with no work to interrupt me; These are the times when I read. There is a constant struggle to deplete the haul of yet-unread books in my bookshelf (it grows faster than I manage to reduce it). As a rule, I never read electronic books. The thrill of a physical page is indescribable.
Almost three years ago, I started getting overwhelmed with the number of books on my bookshelf, spending more time arranging and cleaning the shelf (nothing makes the collection of physical books as troubling and testing as dust). Even when I was reading, the selection of what I read was getting increasingly random and haphazard. I had no record of what I read and what was unread. I suddenly decided to make a list of all I had read that year and found I had trouble remembering the exact books (barely a dozen). After listing them, I decided to make a random list of all I intended to read that year, random being the central theme. I ticked those that I had read, and as I read a new one off the list, I ticked it off. This routine began the start of a random but deliberate reading culture. In 2018, I made a random list at the beginning of the year and ticked off as I read each. I then tweeted a summary of each of the books I read at the end of the year. This year, I decided to go a step further and keep a diary where I wrote a summary of each book in addition to ticking them off the 2019 list. Months later, I have gone a step further and now blog (if you call this blogging) about my random but yet deliberate affair between myself and the contents of my bookshelf.
This a diary detailing my deliberately random consumption of the books I am chanced to own (and read) and the music that accompanies my everyday living. Nothing substantial, nothing technical and no profound critique herein — just a light journey between my beloved and bulging bookshelf and me. While I may be deliberate and up to date in my book buying, I am intentionally random about the books I pick out of my shelf. I am well within my rights to buy a book today and read it thirty-six months later. The same way my review of any book is wholly subjective and unaffected by the popular press, as Flaubert famously said every single reading produces a different book. Each reading experience is dependent on the prism that the reader brings to it.
Another love of mine is music — Jazz music, to be particular. So the deliberate random musings do not only encompass books but also my love for Jazz that starts from South African Jazz and stretches to related forms of the art form, which all constitute the soundtrack of my life. Some moments are in live performances held in seemingly ordinary venues around the world while others haunt me either in the shower or bedtime at night. I will willingly acknowledge that the sounds are seldom mainstream. Again the trend is random yet deliberate – for a week I am listening to a jam that was released days ago and the next month I am stuck on a ’70s tune that I heard a decade back but remembered minutes before I got into the shower and it sets the mood for my life for the next week. However, whether old or new, they are the soundtracks of my daily living.
Once again, welcome to the pages and sounds that surround my life!