I topped the ton on a motorbike years ago on a stretch of the ruler-straight Roman road that crosses the Cotswolds Hills called the Fosse Way. I passed the ton in a flashy, silver Mazda car rocketing along one of the unbelievably unrestricted sections of a German autobahn. And just today I clocked the ton in the “Books Read” section of my Kindle. If you are not from the UK this might all seem very odd, but, colloquially, a ‘ton’ here simply means one hundred: a. hundred miles per hour or a hundred books or whatever
A hundred books would weigh about a hundredweight, i.e. about one hundred pounds in America, more in the UK and roughly fifty kilograms in Europe. A strong man can carry a hundredweight bag of cement under each arm. I can manage one with difficulty – in other works a ton of books is pretty heavy.
One estimate I’ve found reckons that you can make 20 to 30 books from a 10 inch (25 cms) thick tree so my one hundred books would have required the death of four trees if they were paper, plus all the energy involved in felling the trees and transforming the wood into pulp. In the Kindle my books weigh effectively nothing, and cost virtually nothing to produce. What’s more they only take up a quarter of the Kindle’s available storage – so plenty more reading yet.
Actually my Kindle, just like my offices in the past, is a mess. I do have a section for “Books Abandoned”. There are 37 currently lying, sad and rejected, in there. Then I have the equivalent of my desk top where books lie about in good order, but actual disarray. There are well over a hundred books there patiently awaiting the push of my finger. Some, like The Diary of Samuel Pepys, I’ve been nibbling away at for years. Others are samples that I have yet to look at, others are in some intermediate state where I cannot bring myself to abandon them, but probably should. Still others are simply forgotten or ignored like a volume that has slipped from sight at the back of the sofa.
How can I be so messy? Well all of those books hanging around on my desk top, and those that I’ve abandoned and read are in that quarter of storage that I’ve used so far, so I can afford to be a little lax. Besides no one else sees my mess.
Where do all these books come from? Almost all are from Amazon of course, but the problem there is finding books that you like at prices that you like. Here’s where Book Bub comes in. Every day it send me an email with news of eBooks on special offer that I might like and so I have a queue of books that I have sampled or bought by this route adding to the mess on my desk top. And I love it. My greatest fear is to be without a book to read - no fear of that nowadays, the problem is to find the time to read them.
My one hundredth book was The Fictional Man by Al Ewing. It was interesting. The gimmick here is the production (not explained in any detail) of fictional characters in the flesh who then play their namesakes in TV series etc. Yeah, it’s an odd idea, but it allows the author to debunk racism and question our own versions of reality. Not surprisingly it introduces the touchy subject of sex between ‘fictionals’ and ‘real people’ and ends with the odd concept of ‘real people’ who want to be ‘fictionals’. Perhaps not so odd in fact.