Today I went for my regular volunteering shift at the local bookshop – to strengthen my willpower by resisting the temptation to buy more books, to get my weekly fix of chocolate biscuits, to spend time around some lovely people and… hopefully to hear some more cool phrases.
A customer came in asking whether we had any more books by Marina Lewycka apart from A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian that we had in the shop. He said he had seen another book, but it was in such a bad nick that he didn’t get it.
I hear this phrase – ‘in good/bad nick‘ – from other volunteers very often. ‘Nick‘ essentially means ‘condition’.
You can also say that a book that is in a bad nick is ‘tatty‘.
I must say that in the days when I was buying books from charity shops like there was no tomorrow, I did buy some tatty ones, but I ended up donating them back to charity shops as I never read them. Much as I love books – all kind of books – I find that they need to look appealing.
I still find that I have hoarded way too many books and I need to slowly work my way through them so that I could buy new books!
This is how my current ‘to-read list’ looks like (or at least its English section – there’re at least as many books in other languages waiting to be read and they make me feel bad):
And while we’re on the subject of books and shelves… I recently came across the word ‘shelfie‘, i.e. ‘selfie of your bookshelf’. Here are some shelfies from Guardian readers.
Shelfies – that is adorable!
I totally agree!
I’m not sure whether it’s a regional variation or misinterpretation, but I think I would say “in good nick” without the ‘a’. It might be that others say ‘in a good nick’ but that sounds odd to me.
Hi! Thanks for the valuable comment, I should amend this. It’s also possible that I’ve heard ‘in a pretty good nick’ – you’d keep ‘a’ in this case, wouldn’t you?
It would be interesting to see what others say about it. I would never use ‘a’ with this expression. Actually, “in pretty good nick” sounds far more natural to me.