Although I can commiserate with Amy Wilentz’s dilemma of overcrowded bookshelves in her essay for the New York Times Book Review – ...One Book Out, her decision to discard Carlos Ruiz Zafron’s Shadow of the Wind, one of my favorite books -without reading it – had me reassessing my own indiscriminate culling of books for lack of space. If Wilentz had inadvertently thrown away a treasure like Shadow of the Wind (maybe she didn’t mean it), what chance did I have to thin my shelves; just think what I might be missing.
If you think a candy store is tempting, try getting out of a bookstore with me without buying at least two books. On my last trip to Los Angeles, I decided to forego flying back with my neatly packed carry-on to load up on books at my favorite bookstore in West Hollywood. Of course, the books were available – online, by mail, probably in my bookstore back home – but that didn’t matter. Had to have those books, which now sit in a pile with other impulse book purchases in a corner next to my bookshelf.
Like Amy Wilentz, I own books I have yet to read, taking up precious space. Every now and then, I too try to thin the stacks. I mail books to a friend who has just bought a new house (empty shelves – happy birthday!) This works if I can get the book in the mail soon after I’ve finished reading; once that book claims its niche on my shelf, it may never leave again.
Grant Snider created a cartoon for the book review section of the New York Times that defined the book of the future.
To accomodate complaints of low-lighting on breakable e-readers that may strain eyes, Snider suggests redesigning books by:
- making them interactive (by turning pages by hand)
- using non-glowing type encased in a protective layer of wood pulp (paper)
- and giving books a home decorating function (as in book shelves).
Could books go full circle? from to
Check out Snider’s cartoon – here.
When I came across the ocean without my books and the shelves sat bare until the slow boat carrying them could catch up, anyone who came into my office would think I did not read. After a few weeks, a few new books spread scattered on a lonely shelf; it would be impossible not to keep getting books, but those that I had kept for many years were not there – and I missed them. When they finally arrived, I closed the door and got reacquainted – smoothing their covers, rereading the inscriptions, opening to worn bookmarked pages with passages I wanted to remember.
With the shelves stacked high with a wall of books, the room was warmer and friendlier. Now when anyone came in, they went to the shelves first to see what I read – sometimes, a familiar book started a conversation or a connection.
A room without books is like a body without a soul………..Cicero
Bruce Feiler tries to snoop on his friend’s bookshelf in his article for the New York Times, Snooping in the Age of eBook, surreptitiously trying to discover what his friend is like through what she likes to read. With electronic books replacing print on paper, snooping is not so easy – books are not on display but hidden inside a Kindle, Nook, or iPad. Reading Feiler’s article reminded me of the room that had no books for a while.
That room is gone now, and many of the books have been given away or donated to the library, but some remain in a smaller room on shorter shelves. If you could see them, you’d know that I keep them to remind me of who I am, what I dream, where I’ve been, and why I read. And, if you could snoop there, you’d know a little more about me.