Can I get a ‘hell yeah’ for a research-based reason to continue building our personal library at home? In a day where e-readers are becoming ever more popular, I’m happy to see that actual, printed-and-bound books still have a place in our lives. Of course, even without that I’d still be buying books because of my… unfortunate obsession… but it’s nice to have official back-up from someone who makes it their business to know such things.
In case you somehow missed it, reading is my joy passion compulsion first love relaxation activity of choice. I’m always in the middle of a couple of books; currently the list is, among others, House of Leaves, The Demon Outlaw Wails, Bullet, The Silmarillion, Gone and The Black Tattoo, plus a handful of Harlequin romance novels (OMG, I love cheesy quick-read romance novels). I collect books the same way that someone else might collect stamps to thimbles. I like the way they look, feel and smell. I like the weight of them in my hands when I’m reading. I like finding good deals on them and buying first editions the day they’re released. I like clean, crisp pages and the ones that are creased and wrinkled and so fragile you have to make sure not to breathe on them too had lest they disintegrate. Mostly, I like the instant transportation and escape of being lost in the fantasy that reading provides.
Some would say that owning a book is pointless; that borrowing is better or more eco-friendly or cost-effective, and with the ever-increasing popularity of e-readers that may be more true now than in days past, but mostly I disagree. I rarely read a book only once. Most of my books, I read over and over again, especially series books. I see my book collection as an investment. I have books now that my grandmother and my mom had when they were little, and numerous antique books. I started collecting Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley High and Baby Sitters Club books when I was little and I still have them. I’ve even added to them over the years. I knew that I’d have kids one day, so I started collecting Goosebumps books, The Hardy Boys and Junie B. Jones books and other kids’ series books a long time ago. We also have a collection of the classics – Lewis Carrol, Homer, Shakespeare, Mark Twain and fiction in everything from picture books to graphic novels and comics. We have non-fiction, including poetry and reference books and even a few biographies and self-help books Our library is extensive. Seeing them all lined up in the stacks (yes, we have enough bookshelves to be called ‘stacks’) and in precarious piles on the floor makes me inexplicably happy.
The kids are also drifting in that direction. It seems like every time we go to the bookstore, they’re adding a new book to their list. We started keeping a ‘wish list’ several years ago. I write down (or take a picture of) whatever book’s ISBN or toy they want and we refer back to it when it’s time to buy something for them (like for the Tooth Fairy or a just-because prezzie). I’m glad that they seem to value written works (however much they protest at writing themselves).
We’re in the process of downsizing our library. Whereas many of our downsizing activities come from a more altruistic place in our hearts and minds, this one is strictly an ‘out with the old and in with the new’ activity. We’re donating them, yes, but it’s not truly out of a desire to help others. I feel kinda guilty admitting that, but it’s the truth. Mostly, it’s a space issue. I don’t have room to add another bookcase – we have a kids’ bookcase in the living room in front of the china cabinet that’s waiting for a real home. I’m considering relocating the kids series books that the boys are getting old enough for to this bookcase and putting it in their room to free up space on my shelves. Maybe I’ll do that tomorrow.