Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Packing My Library

I spent yesterday afternoon listening to Ornette Coleman's "relaxing and soothing" At the Golden Circle records while boxing up the majority of my books in anticipation of moving house. The remaining books - about 100 titles - fit on three-and-a-bit shelves, not so much a library or collection as a glorified tbr pile.

Packing my books was slightly depressing. Most of them were purchased since we moved in here almost six years ago and I've done a lot of work in that time - an entire degree, plus blogging, reviews, etc - while more or less encircled by them. While I am largely devoid of bibliophilic sentimentality, I retain the emotional attachment to books I developed during childhood. Put simply, I like being around books. Sometimes I even read them.

Yet there is something to be said for downsizing, if only temporarily. Overstuffed shelves can be daunting - too much choice, too difficult to navigate. Every one of the hundred-odd books I have available to me now is appealing in a way that many of them were not prior to yesterday. Reducing the scope of my collection has somehow resulted in an increased sense of its potential.


TimT said...

Yeah, I get that. It's more or less essential for me to have a library even if I don't plan on re-reading a book in the near future - it can be used for referencing, or quoting, or in the course of a debate, or just because one likes looking for quotes. I've lived for several years with a schizophrenic kind of library, though - the one I have (and have built up) in Melbourne, and the one that belonged to me in Newcastle. I will also neurotically carry books and magazines around with me all day long, more often than not acquiring a few in the process. (For instance: I began the day with a copy of Vanity Fair and a zine I picked up last night at Sticky Comics. When I went down the street for lunch, I got a copy of The Spectator.)

I think it runs in the family. Dads a bit that way, too. We're freaks, I tells ya!

Tim said...

I think it was Anthony Burgess who claimed to be addicted to reading. Not addicted to a particular kind of reading matter, just reading in general, so that in any spare moment he had to have something to read, whether it was Shakespeare or a cereal box. I can totally relate to that.

My Dad doesn't understand why I buy so many books. He's a dedicated library man, doesn't see the point of owning books you're probably only going to read once if at all.