I’ve been restraining myself from tweeting lines from Howard Jacobson’s Whatever it is, I don’t like it all day.
The book, an anthology of 13 years of columns for The Independent, was my Christmas gift to me. It’s proving much more enjoyable than that other self-gift, a new pair of running shoes, which give back only self-loathing and blisters.
The problem (and what a glorious problem!) is there are too many lines to tweet. I’d end up delivering all 343 pages in 140 character bursts, to which the good folk at Bloomsbury may take issue.
But I’m uneasy about leaving these lines untweeted. These days it seems enjoyment can only be actioned if its occurrence, and the thing that prompted it, is shared with the world. Or at least the 207 people of the world who follow me on Twitter and aren’t just desperate to give me an iPad.
I felt the same way on my first trip to Tasmania armed with half a day to find a flat and a shiny new DSLR camera on the laughable assumption there’d be time to sight see. I thought it would look cool to walk through the airport with a camera bag slung over one arm until I realised only 0.002 per cent of the population look cool carrying a camera bag and the rest look rather a dick. Later I found an hour to drive up the East Tamar Highway and watch the river in flood. I didn’t take a photo. How could I? How could my blurry picture convey the quiet excitement of: I’ve just accepted a job in a place I’d never been before and surprisingly I quite like it here?
And what would Facebook care?
So no, I won’t tweet Howard Jacobson. You’ll have to read it yourself and succumb to the joyful indulgence of great writing.
In fact, that will be my new year’s resolution. Gym shoes and aspirational veganism be damned. I’m going to read good books. No more excuses about being time-poor. Anyone who finds time to read the full Twilight on a university study break can bloody well make time to read Waugh after work.
As the man himself said (I know I said I wouldn’t, but you knew that was a lie, didn’t you?):
“The dichotomy between great works of literature and books we ‘secretly’ enjoy is a false one… The greater the book the more pleasure it gives.”