Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Simultaneous Reads

As a bookseller, the worst thing I encounter is having someone apologize for a book they're buying. "I know I should be reading something more serious, but..." I don't think The Bookshelf gives off any kind of haughty vibe; I'd like to think that any feeling of shame is the result of a creeping miasmic rumour that you're less of a person if you're not familiar with Finnegan's Wake. But the thing is, we're not an academic journal; we sell books. And selling books means that we support and encourage titles of all kinds of heaviness and lightness. And if you're ever feeling sensitive about a book, don't sweat it: we love that you're here, and we want to hear about the books you love, why you love them, and how they fit into your life. Life is full of cracks of all depth and width and the great thing about there being so many damn books is chances are there's one that's a perfect fit for all those weird spaces in your life.

The fact is, most people are omnivorous readers: sometimes we like to fathom the depths of our own inky condition and sometimes we like to go for gentle paddles. And sometimes we like to do both simultaneously.

This year's Journey Prize winner, Naben Ruthnum was just featured on Hazlitt's great Shelf Esteem feature. "If there’s something I’m smug about, reading-wise," Ruthnum says, "it’s the diversity of my taste. I read so much stuff that might be considered trash, but it’s not trash. Most of it is really good." The variety of his reading habits lead Ruthnum to start this Tumblr, Simultaneous Reads. The stacks featured on the site will probably look familiar to you. You have these in your house--by your bedside, on your toilet tank, beside the TV--or you've seen them at friends houses. These simultaneous reads stacks bring to mind inuksuks, both in appearance and meaning--"something which acts for or performs the function of a person."

So, if you can put down your book for a second, have a look at the stacks on Naden's Tumblr, and imagine how the books that make them up describe the person that left it. And if you have an extra moment, send us a picture of your own simultaneous reads stack, or if you spot one while you're out and about, snap it and send it along.

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