Try It

You Can Have Too Much Of A Good Thing

Home Roxstars You Can Have Too Much Of A Good Thing

When I was a child, I’d save my pocket money for two things: the first being books, and the second being Fizz-Pops (preferably the sour apple variety, packed with tongue-tingling sour-apple sherbet).

Both of these treats, in the colonial British outpost of Salisbury – now the bustling African city of Harare – were in short supply.

Each Friday, I’d cycle to the little local library, and try to find a book I hadn’t already read. And each birthday and Christmas I’d wait with bated breath for the next Secret Seven/Famous Five/Nancy Drew paperback to arrive from my beloved cousin in Liverpool, wrapped in brown paper and string, and slightly dog-eared after the mail ship to Cape Town, a train to Zimbabwe, a van to our suburb, and at last, the hands of a dog-nipped, bicycle-riding postman.

So it makes sense that, 40 years later, when I bought my first house in London, the first thing I built were shelves for the things I loved most: books. That, with my first salary, the first thing I treated myself to was an enormous, glossy art book. And that, until recently, every Christmas I still bought my partner a book I hoped he might love – as he did for me.

When I say did, it’s because in the past couple of years, we’ve stopped giving each other books. Not because I don’t still adore good writing. But because, thanks to some rather unthinking publishing PRs, who have added me to their publishing lists – in spite of vigorous protestations – books keep arriving in the post. Some weeks I get ten or 20. Some on travel. Some on food. Some on interiors. Some on absolutely nothing I’ve ever been interested in (this week, handmade Japanese bicycle frames; last week, cupcakes).

And rather than enjoying that wonderful feeling of unwrapping a new book, I feel totally swamped. They’re piled up in my office. Lurking under my desk. Wobbling in towers on my desktop. I have a bag in my car boot, to take to the charity shop. A suitcase for the local school. Another stash for foodie friends.

Rather than being a pleasure, the books have become a burden. Even if they are the most exquisite books I’ve ever seen, I resent them because I will never find the time to look at them – never mind read them.

Looking back at the features I’ve written in the past year, only three have been inspired by books. And all three were sent as PDFs, so I could look at them on my screen, on a plane, on a train, and take what I needed in order to write about them.

Which means that thousands of pounds of publishers’ money has been wasted on books I will never look at, and never feature. A few dozen trees have been cut down unnecessarily. And a whole lot of my energy has been spent giving books away.

Please keep sending me catalogues listing new books. Please alert me with press releases about books that could inspire a feature. Please email me if there are great new guidebooks I should know about. Just don’t send me the real thing, please.

Or, for that matter, Fizz Pops. Because I eat them so rarely, they’re still a glorious treat.

Post Author

Lisa Grainger has worked for The Times – from the arts and news desks to The Times Magazine and LUXX – since 1995. When she isn’t working as deputy editor of Luxx, Lisa freelances for publications from Departures and Travel + Leisure to The Times, pens a monthly interview with a leading British craftsman for Walpole, and is sustainability editor at Country & Town House. She has won awards for her travel writing on Africa, and is a regular contributor to panels on conservation and luxury travel. Her compilation of African myths and legends, Stories Gogo Told Me, funds schooling for orphaned girls through the CAMFED charity.


Tomorrow's Business

Roxhill updates

Click below to choose which updates your receive.

What Lisa Thinks... See press release


Friday Q and A with Emily Turner


Last Minute Dot Com


Similar Posts

Other Posts by

News & Updates

Subscribe to our newsletters

Tomorrow's Business Roxstars

We use cookies to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. Accept cookie settings by clicking the button.
You can view our Cookie Policy or Privacy Policy.