Day one

Today is a new day. It is the first day of the week. It is the first day of my new life as a non-smoker. It is the first day of this blog, which is a blog I have been meaning to start writing for some time but there always seemed to be something else in the way. Mainly my mind not knowing how to do the thing. Now I have an idea of how to do it.

I am known in certain shops – all second hand bookshops I should add – as the man who comes along and picks out a selection of books that added together (perhaps five or six at a time)  cost less than the price of a new book. I am lucky that I live in a town that has perhaps the best second hand bookshops in England. It is a university town (two universities!). It is a town by the sea where educated people go to retire, die and have their books distributed to the wind.

One day, in the outside racks of the very best shop, (where an array of erudite paperbacks shuffle covers with the cheapest sci-fi  and fantasy and where each volume can be bought for anywhere between 80 pence and the almost outrageously expensive rarity for £2. But the majority are for sale at £1 flat) I found, as I always do, a book or two that I know will amuse, interest or educate me. I handed over the five or six books that I had to rescue – for I do think of it as a rescue mission – if I don’t buy them who will? – and then, as the man behind the desk totted up the total (which I had already totted up but I didn’t tell him) I had a little poke through the little box that is kept at the side of the counter – containing books to replace the ones sold. The man saw me, knew me as a regular, and said: “We’ve got a whole warehouse of books. I could give you the key and you could look through them if you like.” I looked at him horrified. “Don’t destroy my life. This is my one pleasure. A few books now and then – well every week or so. That’s enough for me. And I don’t get round to reading even half of those.”

That’s how it is with me. And so the bookshelves at home are heaving with books that I have bought in this way. One day a visitor came and said: “Gosh, you’ve read a lot of books!” But why would I keep books that I have read on my bookshelves? My library is a library of books that have been read by others (for the most part – occasionally I find a proof copy of a book that has not yet been released!) but not by me.

And now this blog is going to give me the opportunity to read them and discuss them in the entirely innocent, raw way that I intend.



Author of Dreams of Gold – the comic novel of the London 2012 Olympics

About Jonathan Chamberlain

I am a novelist and creative writer attacking all genres indiscriminately - Dreams of Gold (humour) - Alphabet of Vietnam (literary suspense) - Whitebait & Tofu (noir suspense) - Wordjazz for Stevie (memoir) - King Hui (biography) - Chinese Gods (cultural analysis) - The Cancer Survivor's Bible (self-help) My literary blog is In Praise of Older Books see My Fighting Cancer website is My cancer information archive is at
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