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Reading for pleasure on company time

Anthology Collecting Ray Pettibon Reading

Listing books online can be a dangerous job. Not dangerous in a "I'm heading off to an underground mine where I work with explosives" kind of way; more in a "where did the time go today?" kind of way.

Just yesterday, I went down one of those book-listing rabbit warrens you read about all the time.*

I was leafing through a book looking for identifying marks, a publishing date, a publisher; the sorts of mundane tasks that are crucial parts of my job.

The book was the rather intriguing A Reader by Raymond Pettibon. I was unaware of this American artist, although the crude black-and-white imagery on the cover looked somewhat familiar.

I googled. Pettibon's caricatures and sketches ran parallel to, and dissected, the energetic Californian punk scene of the early 1980s. He even designed the iconic Black Flag logo.

Although I prefer my punk British and my rock Detroit, I've watched Repo Man enough times to know my favourite Circle Jerks tune. "Gimme a bomb, a Molotov, it's a coup d'Etat!!!"

Anyway, Pettibon's book is a collection of his favourite short written pieces, eclectic and oddly text-heavy for what really is an artist's catalogue detailing a show he headlined at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in the 90s. The book runs to 252 pages.

One selection stood out, Walter Benjamin's Unpacking My Library: A Talk about Book Collecting. Originally written in 1931, the essay riffs on a collector's intimate relationship with his or her books.

Before I knew it, I was reading not working.

I sell books for a living. Sometimes those books are interesting and, now and again, they're fascinating to the point of distraction. In my hands, some books scream out to be read. Or, at the very least, examined and mulled over. The trouble with this is that I can lose half an hour of the day before I even know I've lost half an hour of the day, carefree and oblivious in blissful distraction.

I probably should look at as a positive thing. In reality, I'm educating myself on a daily basis. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

* Replace "all the time" with "on this blog".

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