While we are having some repair work done in our home office, I have temporarily moved my books to various locations around the house, leading me to wonder, once again, why I continue to own so many, especially considering how often we move.
I am a constant reader of books, but it’s not just their content I enjoy. I am a fan of books themselves. The actual objects. I love holding books in my hands, feeling the weight and texture of them, touching the paper pages, and riffling them with my thumb.
I enjoy studying the front and back covers of books, appreciating the design that has gone into creating them. Artful cover designs are one of the pleasurable things about owning a collection of books. I might not ever reread my books, but I will certainly look at them from time to time.
I like to crack the spines of new books, and I like the way old books get uniquely worn. I like the thud of a book landing on a hard surface. I like turning pages. And I like how books look on shelves, lined up next to each other.
Whenever I read a book on an E reader it always seems like something is missing. I appreciate how lightweight E readers are, their enormous capacity, and I like how much less E books cost, but I have never felt the kind of love for an E book, that I often feel for REAL books.
E books lack the aesthetic pleasures of physical books, and you can’t display them in your home. You can learn a lot about a person by perusing their books, and I like what my books have to say about me. In a way, owning books is a form of expression.
Unfortunately, I have never been able to afford as many books as I would like to own. And I have never had enough room for them. I have moved many times in my life, and with each move I have had to cull my collection. To truly live life as a bibliophile, you have to stay in one place. A place with lots of shelves. And I have never had that luxury.
Instead, here I am, faced with the unhappy prospect of packing up my books again. Every time I move I curse myself because of them, I swear I’m just going to let them go and be free. But of course I don’t, and then there they are, my old friends, in whatever new place I land.