Tuesday, March 22, 2011

HMS Surprise

I am, for a variety of reasons, having a bit of a clear out. Down-sizing might be the right word. Why keep all those CDs when I have all the music in iTunes and backed up in triplicate? So they're going on amazon marketplace or to the charity shops. I've weeded through the DVDs as well trying to keep just the ones that I might watch again one day, the rest go the same way as the CDs.

And then there are all those books, mostly paperbacks and mostly ones I will never get round to re-reading. It's nice to have some books in a house, something to pick up and flick through from time to time but do I need a whole wall of them? Some of the books are old and vaguely precious to me, so those will be kept. The rather nice set of the the Quatermass plays in Penguin paperbacks will stay. As will some special books that my children gave me including a signed copy of Simon Singh's Code Book from Jenny, and the hardback of The Immortal life of Henrietta Lacks from Tom.

But what else to keep? There are some books that I am replacing on the Kindle. So I will always have copies of William Gibson's recent novels and all of Iain M Banks' culture novels. Plus a copy of Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods for when I need a good laugh or a chapter on a part of America that I will never see. I have a hard copy of To Kill a Mockingbird - it's my favourite just like it is everybody else's, but I won't hesitate to get that on the Kindle when an e-version is published.

That just leaves one other series of books that I will keep. Books that I have already read about 3 times each. The Aubrey/Maturin naval novels by Patrick O'Brian. 20 novels set during an elongated version of the Napoleonic wars of the early nineteenth century. They're just fantastic. A combination of action, intrigue, humour and all laced with some Rum and a barrage of naval terms and information about sailing. The third book in the series is HMS Surprise and it may be my favourite of them all. It's also a perfect introduction to the partnership of Captain Jack Aubrey and his particular friend and ship surgeon Stephen Maturin. Maturin is also an intelligence agent and the consequences of his undercover activities propel the action in the early part of the book.

Anyway I'm keeping that rather battered set of 20 paperbacks, at least until the Kindle version appears.

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