You can never have too many books
This is a short rambled essay about books that just needed to get out of my system…
The mere thought of getting rid of books saddens me. Unfortunately, I tried to once. The wave of minimalism caught my attention and I tried applying it to my life. It all began fine — Clothes: pretty easy. Things and knick-knacks: easy. I saved books for last and, as of this moment, I don’t understand why because the anticipation of this horrid task was a dreadful wait (and weight), but I thought I could do it. I got rid of two books (textbooks from classes ten years ago). I picked up every book I owned and Marie Kondo-ed it and they all sparked joy in some sense whether I had read it yet or not. Books mean too much to me and I’m not quite sure if they should mean so much and should have so much power over me, but at the end of the day, they do and it helps to know I’m not alone with this book supremacy.
The way they look on a bookshelf, perfectly placed or randomly thrown, and the way they stack nicely on the floor to make a perfect bedside table, there is something satisfying about seeing a bunch of books — there is no other graceful way of saying it, just a bunch of books is a lovely sight. Lined up or stacked on top of each other, when going to someone’s house and seeing books, not only does one think ‘oh, this person is well-read’ or ‘oh, this person has great/horrible taste’ or ‘oh, this person has an eye for aesthetics’ when they see these rows or stacks, but instead ‘oh, earth’s gravity is pulling me toward this landmark of beauty bestowed before me and I must go observe and read titles and back covers and oh you can keep talking but I’m only half listening now.’
There is something wondrous about knowing that in each book lies an adventure held within its text and pages waiting for the next set of eyes to share and live the story with the characters and make these adventures come to life in your imagination. Adventure awaits the next reader, any adventure they please, and these adventures are the answers to many problems. Need a break from your life? Book. Need to kill time on your break at work? Book. Bored? Book. Inspiration? Book. The most worthwhile lesson I learned from watching the television show Gilmore Girls was to take a book with me everywhere I went and, with this lesson, these questions found a permanent answer because I now always have one with me.
Early morning reading while sitting at my desk with a cup of coffee is the most peaceful reading to take place in the day. To sit in a dark room with the ambiance of a small light re-creates the effect of reading by candlelight in a time that respected the value of books far greater than this time — our time. Curtains closed on a bright sunny day with only the light from my desk lamp on the pages. My wife says I live in a cave as she prefers natural light, and yes, natural light is the best light of course, but I prefer it only when I’m outside in it. If I’m inside, dark and cozy is better for my dark soul.
The comfort and calm of their smell keep anxiety at bay. It’s a familiar smell, for the air in every used book store is entrenched with this smell to some degree and it’s the smell of a second home because home is just a feeling captured by your senses. Knowing that the appearance of the previous owner and what their environment was like makes no difference at all because they all retain this luxurious ‘used book’ smell that reminds you in an instant that digital is no way of life. This gratifying smell creates a universal sense of solace and what comes with it is the universal sensation one gets while holding a well-loved and good-smelling book. Knowing that each previous owner has read the same words and has been on the same adventure but, at the end of it all, has had a different experience and has perhaps taken away from the book a different lesson of sorts and a different moral to now adhere by is a sense of assurance that books belong in this diverse world amongst diverse minds and that the ever-expanding knowledge within learning will always survive.
I’m ashamed that I once tried to dwindle my book collection. I’m sorry, Books. It will never happen again.