Monday, June 27, 2011
For the Love of Books
I took a break from writing today to ‘fiddle’ with my books. That’s what I call it when I play with them. I rearrange and reorganize them on my shelves. I dust them and run my hands over their covers. I smile as I remember the particular pleasure one of them has given me. I doubt if I’m any different from a little kid playing with action figures and dolls.
Every genre is represented on my shelves, from the west that never was to the future that never will be. Every kind of cover can be found there, from the garish to the literary. These books hold dreams for me. I remember when I wanted to be John Carter of Barsoom, or Dray Prescot of Scorpio, or Flandry of Terra. I wanted to fly aboard the Enterprise, sail aboard the Nautilus or the Hispaniola. I wanted to ride with the Sacketts. I think it was just yesterday.
Once in a while I feel like I ought to cull my books a little, strengthen the herd by getting rid of the weak. But the few times I've attempted it, I've always regretted it. Even if I don't like a book, I find that I have to keep it around because someday I'll want to refer to it, even if it's just to pan it. I still have some of the first books I ever bought, back when my grade school had a reading program and you could get them for 25 cents each. I also buy books that I once checked out of libraries or that friends had loaned me. I didn't have much money in the old days so I scrounged for reading material however I could. Now that I have a bit more disposable income, I find I enjoy spending it on those pleasant memories from the past.
I love my Kindle and I’ve discovered many great reads that I might not otherwise have found, but it will not, cannot, replace the actual thing for me. I even ‘fiddle’ with my ebooks, placing them in folders by genre on my computer. But it isn’t the same.
I often wonder if mine will be the last generation to treasure books so highly. My students certainly don’t seem to value books. Most people today who see my collection express either amazement or amusement. Not many of them suffer envy. I'm already considered an eccentric because of how much I read and how many books I own. I wonder how long it'll be before I'm treated like the little old lady with 72 cats, how long before I become the: "creepy guy with all the books who keeps to himself?"
I think I might relish the role. And one thing for sure, I’m well suited for it. How about you?