Sunday, January 08, 2012

The Availability of Books

Without television (long story), we read a lot at home; either churning through the Internet or staying up with a good book. Years ago, when there really wasn’t a TV option, and satellite watching was still a far-off idea, we would carefully write our names in our stash of well-thumbed novels – spy stories, thrillers, derring doos and bug-eyed-monster books – and lend the best ones to our friends, who would rarely, if ever, return them. Sometimes, I find one of our collection in a jumble sale or on a friend’s shelf.

There isn’t much in the way of book-shops here – and the rare one that opens usually doesn’t last long (there’s a good one called Bookworld in San Pedro that bucks the trend) – so I go along to the local markets now and again to fill up with the reasonably latest used and cast aside thrillers. Mojácar has a Wednesday market with one chap with a good selection in English and a second Sunday flea-market with a few stalls of books of every and any description. Turre has an English language book-stand on Friday market and Albox has a large Saturday flea-market, although I have yet to visit. Otherwise, a few supermarkets – notably SuperTurre - sell a cheap range of new books at five euros, and there are no doubt other places besides.

Perhaps the best choice is to join the Mojácar English Library (bottom floor at the Centro de Artesanía, now confusingly re-named at the Centro de Usos Multiples) which is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 11.00am until 1.00pm.

Besides these outlets, we have the three fallbacks of Amazon dot com, friends coming out from England (via a good bookshop) or the wonders of electric books with Kindle and so on.

All of these mean I have plenty of books in the house, on shelves, in boxes and trunks and in an unsteady pile beside the bed. Being blessed with a faulty memory, I'm slowly working through the old ones again with the same sense of wonderment and surprise as the last four or five times.

The best book I have read in the past few months is called ‘The City and the City’ by a British author called China Miéville. It’s a murder mystery set in a city populated by two different nationalities that speak their two exclusive languages and walk through their city totally ignoring anyone or anything connected to the other population. They are taught from birth to ‘unsee’ the others as if they didn’t exist and, in the book, few people are able to ‘cross’. Odd, but makes sense. It also reminds me rather of life in Mojácar where many people also ignore the other nationality as if they simply weren’t there. The difference is, the English-speakers here don’t have a Council or an Elder.

Although they do,without doubt, have a better library.

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