I bought eight books yesterday. Two by Theroux, Kerouac’s classic on the road, Tim Smith’s on Ibn Battuta’s trail, a wonderful little book on mankind’s fascination with the end of mankind, Sun Tzu’s art of war, one about the biggest ever diamond heist and one on the Corleone family.
And there they are, all eight of them, lying on a table, beautiful to look at and a delight to touch. Meanwhile, I am salivating at the prospect of diving into these books. Which two books should I start reading first? No serious book junkie reads a book at a time, has to be two or three. Denial enhances the pleasure and I am playing pointless games with myself.
Which brings me to a question that has on and off vexed me. Is the Internet killing the book reading habit? I don’t really see people reading books. You can make out in interviews and in conversations, though this may have more to do with the nature of Dubai as a mercantile city.
Popular media bemoans how the Internet is killing bookstores around the world and scholarship in general. One would assume that first television and then the Internet have collectively dealt a near deathblow to the reading habit.
Quick research on the subject is illuminating and reassuring. 60 years ago about, a fifth of all Americans claimed to be reading a book at any point in time. Now it is one in two Americans. In the last 15 years book reading has steadily climbed, Facebook’s rise notwithstanding. The book reading habit is alive and flourishing.
Now which book do I start with? The one about the biggest ever diamond heist?