Friday, June 10, 2011

Throwing Books Out

There's a pile of books in my bedroom. They are mostly books my mother has already read: we both like thrillers and mysteries. She reads a lot faster than I do (mostly because I got hooked on computers and the internet at age fourteen and now only take time to read actual books before I go to bed, but I swear I used to go through them really fast), so this pile of books is ever-growing. It is a backlog. There are many. They are legion.

On my bookshelf, meticulously custom-built by a very handy neighbour to be so shallow as to only hold paperbacks, there are books I have read more than once. I cleaned out a big batch the last time I rearranged my bedroom to only contain multiple read books, but now there are clingers. There are books adding up, getting wedged onto the shelves. I'm really not sure I'll read The Magicians again, but it's on the shelf, stacked on top of two volumes of the Harry Potter series (have read multiple times, will probably read again). Next to that, Library of the Dead is sandwiched between On Stranger Tides* (will definitely read again) and the short story collection Fragile Things (should read again, don't recall what's in it). I don't think I'll bother reading Library of the Dead again, but it's there, cluttering up the works. I do not want to get rid of it. I do not want to get rid of any of the books. I do not want to donate them. I want to horde them forever.

Not all books, mind you. I finished one called Sizzle that I disliked so much I've been stalling on adding it to the 'books read' sidebar over to the right there. I could drop that sucker into a recycling bin, no problem. But MOST books... they linger.

I am reminded I must weed by a post by someone named Tom O'Hare in Brutish & Short, found while I rummaged about the interwebs for something to post about.

I realize that I use this weekly space to talk about my personal life too much, and I frankly don’t care. Because today, before I disclose the most wonderful things you missed on the blog this week, I would like to discuss books. And I would particularly like to discuss the newfound joy I feel when I throw books the fuck away.

I can't help it, I enjoy a foul-mouthed discussion. It's funny, read it over, think about the books on your shelf (or piled next to your dresser) and remember:

...Books are just words written on paper. They’re not fundamentally different from blogs or newspapers, except for the fact that both of those media lend themselves quite a bit more easily to the process of a) consumption and b) immediate disregard. In other words, you buy a book and you’re expected to keep it. Even after it’s gotten all of the use it’s ever going to get, you’re expected to keep it. Display it. Put it on your bookshelves and watch the gawkers gawk. Even if 90+% of those books will never be touched again, we feel a compulsion to hold onto them. To forefront them. To amass them, even though nobody will ever read them again.

* On Stranger Tides has nothing to do with the Pirates of the Caribbean movie that recently came out. Or, I suppose, very little to do with said movie. They bought the license essentially because the book and the movie shared two plot points: Blackbeard and the fountain of youth, and I guess they were trying to cover their asses or something. But anyway, read On Stranger Tides, because it is a wonderful book and I quite like Tim Powers.


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