Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Books ...

Coffee-table books on a coffee table. Go figure. Though, really, it's an ottoman.

This morning, Angelo posted a post about a personal problem: He loves books and magazines.


Me, too.

I carry a list of books in my wallet, just in case I find myself at the library and somehow unable to remember a single book that I want to read. I write my wallet lists on lined index cards. My book list covers three index cards. Both sides.

It's a good thing that I'm trying to train myself to use the library more and more. Otherwise, I'd have to take out a second mortgage to buy books. And then I'd have to take out a third mortgage to buy another house in which to shelve them.

I did a rather big book purge a couple of years ago. I gave many of them away to good homes. Friends were able to call dibs on whatever they wanted. And the rest went to Goodwill, where I hope they've since been bought and appreciated.

I have, over the years, subscribed to many magazines and let many magazine subscriptions lapse. My latest to go is The New Yorker. I love you, New Yorker, but I can't take the guilt. I can't read you fast enough, and you pile up, and then I feel so daunted by the pile that I know I will never, ever get through because more magazines just keep coming. And there it is, all that erudition just waiting to be consumed, and oh, the pressure, it's too much, so I turn to The Bullseye page of Entertainment Weekly instead.

I did the same thing with Vanity Fair a few years ago. I am a serial subscriber and lapser. Surely, I thought, if I read Vanity Fair on a monthly basis, I would become irresistibly urbane.

[ SNORT! ]

Have I met me?

I am many things. Irresistibly urbane is not one of them. Thus has it been. Thus will it ever be.

So magazines come into my life and magazines go. The core remains. I am a faithful subscriber to a few.

And I could lose myself for hours in a used book store. I like used books. I like new books, too, but I like the idea of used books having another home, another life.

I love Better World Books because it saves books from landfills and shares the proceeds with literacy programs. Smart, that.

And I love Open Books, too. Similar missions, but closer to home.

I marvel at bookstores. So many books. So many ideas that have made their way into print. So many people who cared enough about every topic under the sun to spend portions of their lives translating ideas into words on pages and binding them and releasing them into the world.

It irks me that designers see books purely as objects, and often bothersome at that. I don't understand why anyone would cover all of their books in coordinating papers. How the hell is anyone supposed to know what they own? The other night, I saw a reveal that had all the books turned backward on the shelves, so only the edges of the pages showed. What? A stager once pulled all the book jackets from books before replacing them on the shelves.

Screw aesthetics, people. Respect the books!

I shudder at the thought of a Kindle. I understand the practicality of it for those who travel, but oh, I hate the notion that someday, physical books will be rendered obsolete. I don't want to hold a tablet and press a button to turn a page. Or worse, swipe my finger across a screen as though I were leafing through a magazine.

What about children? I love buying books for babies. I love starting their little libraries with books that I've loved. How will babies Pat The Bunny on a Nook Color? What about reading to a group of children and turning the book toward them so they can see the pictures? What if there's a glare on the screen? Will readers to children use an HD monitor instead?


I suppose the day may come when I simply content myself with the books I already own, if books are no longer printed, only digitized. I will be the Miss Havisham of books. Minus the wedding dress.

I think I just talked myself into never giving another one away.


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