Thursday, January 08, 2009


Books. We all have them kicking around our homes. Some homes like mine have more than some libraries. Other homes, just a few. But I would guess every home has at least one book in it. I have read many of the books I own, but being honest, I have many I have never even opened. Many are what came my way along with all the other things my parents left when they died.

I often wonder why I cannot bring myself to rid my home of the books I will most likely never read. Why, for instance, does my father's antiquated collection of books on electronics still gather dust on a shelf in the office? Do I harbor some secret fear that some day I might be in need of guidance in order to fix some radio still sporting vacuum tubes instead of transistors? Why can I not toss the pulp mysteries my mom loved to wile away her time with? I have no real interest in who dunnits, but still they stand in erratic rows waiting for someone to open them and share the adventure their covers promise to deliver.

Surrounding myself with stupid numbers of books is like comfort food for my soul I guess. I don't need to open them to get my fix. Just having them in close proximity is enough now it would seem. I used to read quite a bit. Matter of fact, I often would go on binges like a drunk out on a bender. Read one right after the other, sometimes consuming two or more in one day. Books and their wonderful repositories, libraries were sanctuaries for me as a youngster when faced with another new town, another place I knew I would never have the chance to feel like I belonged because a move to greener pastures was always waiting in the wings. I would sit for hours on hard wooden chairs at wooden tables and consume piles of books. It almost did not matter what I read. Just losing myself in the worlds where I wasn't was what I wanted.

There is something special about reading from a book that magazines and the Internet do not offer. reading a story that has you so hooked you hope it never ends. When you flip the last page and read "The End", a sense of sadness that it's over mixed in with the thrill of having just lived a wonderful concoction of ideas, times, and interactions brought to you by the mind of another. The physical part of turning pages part of the allure. Bookmarking a page and knowing you can come back and pick up where you left off. Going back to pages previously read and re-reading. Yeah books are probably the most civilized and seminal thing we humans have come up with. Books became the record of the human knowledge and what makes us tick. The Internet can't come close to the affect books had on the human race.

But somewhere between childhood and college I stopped going to libraries so much. I still read and still checked out books. But other things crept into my life that took my attention away from bound pages of words. Women, partying, earning a living - my consumption of the written word began to come in quick hits from magazines and newspapers. I had no time to waste on a good book never mind a bad one. And that was a shame. If I have one regret it is breaking that habit of reading whenever I could.

This promise post for 2009 is to try and read at least one book every two weeks. In addition, replaying old favorites will be frowned upon but will beat a blank. I want to add to my collection. I can always find room for more books. After all they must add some R value to the exterior walls I hang them on. And remember when it all goes to shit in 2012, losing the Internet won't be such a hit.

Some authors and/or subjects I hope to lose myself in are HP Lovecraft, Civil War books, and whatever writings by Anthony Burgess I may have missed.


Anonymous said...

Love books. I stopped hitting libraries when I was in college because I just didn't have time. I've started going back and the books I pick up just fulfill me. I missed it and didn't even know it. Books are the best thing.

Randal Graves said...

Given that I work in a library, I don't have to worry about books ceasing to be an eternal presence, but like you, I certainly haven't read all the books that I own.

They truly are akin to a security blanket or a photo album; as long as they're there, all is right with the world.

Magazines and intertubes be damned, there's nothing like reading a good book.

BBC said...

I go to the library, mostly just read there.

I had a few favorite books that I've read more than once but I loaned them to a 'friend' and never got them back.

A lot of my books are handyman type books, a favorite is my cookbook. There is just something about the warmth a book that a computer can't replace.

I always told my students that when I taught a computer class at the library.

BBC said...

I'll die with this stack of old Mother Earth News mags still here, I still go through them every so often, they are like bibles to me.

Demeur said...

I see by your photo we've read a lot of the same books. Too bad I'm not working right now or I'd send you a bunch. My reading slowed after college. Now it's just technical manuals.

Utah Savage said...

Untill I started writing a blog, I read at least five books a week. I have read so many books I used to see something that looked good, get fifty or a hundred pages into to it to finally realize I'd already read it.

When I moved out of the big house and into my cottage, I had to winnow the books to fit into the few bookcases I could squeeze into this small space. It was painful to leave behind so many great books, but now I have my best loved books surrounding me and a few I'm hoping to read once I find I can no longer write. Odd that I'm only able to do one or the other.

Carlita said...

I love to sit on my couch and look at my bookshelves. Think about the books I've read and loved. Think about how I can't wait to read some of the others. Comfort food for the soul, indeed.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I understand you.