O U T S I D E L E F T   stay i n d e p e n d e n t

300 Words From London: There's More To Life Than Books You Know

Do rodents love Martin Amis? They love him more than Lake does that's for sure.

get the weekly Outsideleft newsletter
by Lake, Editor, London for outsideleft.com
originally published: April, 2007
I had a box of proof copies of Martin Amis's Heavy Water that I gave to my daughter's hamster
by Lake, Editor, London for outsideleft.com
originally published: April, 2007
I had a box of proof copies of Martin Amis's Heavy Water that I gave to my daughter's hamster

It's Christmas 2001.  I am struggling in my front room with a cut-off too big Christmas tree that I am trying to get balanced into a too small earthenware flowerpot. I have a small bag of sand and two half bricks and no matter which way I wedge them or where I put the sand the tree keeps toppling over. In exasperation I look over at something cheery and festive that's playing on the TV to remind me just why I am doing this and how much fun it will be sweeping up needles right through springtime when I see the solution right there on the shelf. Books.

 

I grab a dozen or so paperback books and then I wedge them all around the tree and the pot and the bricks and the sand. And they bend and twist into shape and as if by magic the tree is standing tall and proud and pretty much straight.

 

And I have lots more space on the shelves.

 

I identify this moment as being the one where I finally fell out of love with books. I have spent all of my adult life surrounded by them. Buying them, selling them, artfully defacing them. Hell I even wrote one once. But aside from the time I had a box of proof copies of Martin Amis's Heavy Water that I gave to my daughter's hamster to chew through one by one I can't remember any of them ever having been put to such good use.

 

I have just cleared two shelves of books from my front room. That's equal to about half of the books I own. I didn't take them to the charity shop because my local charity shop doesn't "do" books. I didn't take them to the second-hand store because that's where most of them came from and it didn't seem right to send them back. In any case, there is no money in second-hand books these days. I just threw them away. And it felt so good.

 

see more stories from outsideleft's Culture archive »»

Lake
Editor, London

the first journalism Lake ever had published was a history of Johnny Thunders for Record Collector magazine, since then he has written for publications including the Guardian, Dazed and Confused, the Idler and more recently, outsideleft.com as you have just seen.

more stories you really could read...


thumb through the ancient archives:

search for something you might like...


sign up for the outsideleft weekly. a selection of new and archived stories every week. Or less.

View previous campaigns.

Return of the Soft Rock Renegades
Brazzaville, Do Say Make Think and Arbouretum are poised to slip you all their individual sonic mickeys.
Top Ten Movie Architects
A countdown of the greatest films that use and abuse the idea of the architect.
Apparently, there is such a thing as a free lunch.
One Night in the Life of Bryan
Bryan Corbett's Blue Note Quartet at the Silvershine Jazz Club
Mother Earth is Pregnant for the Fourth Time
Your wretched soul has one last chance for funkification, courtesy of Ms. Erykah Badu
When The Boat Comes In
Prefab Sprout's acclaimed I Trawl the Megahertz - remastered, reissued
Some of our favorite things...