Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Music for bookshops II

A completely unlooked-for consequence of my last post on this subject: I've received several music mixes from various sources and I have say thanks, guys, for the fine new tunes. I can now play the stiff little fingers version of White Christmas, or This Time of Year by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, or some dance music from Scissor Sisters, should the need arise. Meanwhile, I'm surprised that no one commented below about being assailed by music in bookshops - as in "I can't browse when there's music playing and I prefer a hushed, quiet atmosphere," or even, "Music is an art form that deserves one's complete attention (at its best) and to have good music playing as background music is an insult to the music." I myself hope that good music contributes to the overall atmosphere of a shop - and as most used bookshops I know of are quirky affairs, each one reflecting the style of the proprietor, music only serves to further that impression of said style. Playing today: Nickel Creek, The Be Good Tanyas, and Mekons. And my new mixes of course (shades of High Fidelity). Rock on, booklovers.

I'm in favor of music in bookshops, the quirkier the better. Radio is fine as well, but commercials are the kiss of death.

A harder matter to address is your earlier question: why are books such guilty pleasures for so many people? I wrestle with this. I have no guilt about spending money on books that I know I really want. On the other hand, I currently own 78 books on my to-be-read list (I know, it's silly to keep a list!), most of which I am eager to read. This puts a damper on buying more (except those I really want) until I make a dent in these.

On the third hand, there's a responsibility to support sellers, who provide this lifeblood of books. On the fourth hand, but I'm running out of hands.

I'd be interested in the take of others on this.

I'm back, I can finally comment once more. Thanks, Dan - I agree with you, commercials drive me up the wall, and I won't listen to commercial radio at all in the shop (in the car, though, I do listen to Stephen King's radio station - imagine, real local live djs who take requests several hours a day).

78 books TBR, tut tut. I admire your caveat "(except those I really want)" - this allows for just the right amount of wiggle room when standing in a bookshop thinking "buy" or "not buy."

Not at all silly to keep a list. Clifton Fadiman's "Lifetime Reading Plan" comes to mind, of course. But I assume you allow yourself the luxury of deviating from the list when the need arises.
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