email: cavebear2118 AT verizon DOT com

Friday, May 16, 2014

Why Do I have Books?

Why do I have books?

I had to really ask myself that question today.  And the answer is "because I used to read voraciously" and "because I am very information-oriented".  I am the reason bookstores used to exist.  More succinctly, I grew up "pre-internet and pre-cableTV" and needed books if I wanted information or entertainment.  I used to come home from work, make dinner and then sit in a chair reading a book with a cat on my lap (back in the days of Mischief, Cat Ballou, and Sport-Sport).

I spent 50 years collecting books on varieties of subjects.  I have 60 linear feet of science fiction books, for example.  I also have nearly as many books on science, history, cooking, gardening, philosophy, evolution, fishing, nature, cats, geography, general reference, etc.  OMG, I even have a 3' long set of 40 year old encyclopedias!  What possible value do those have today when the internet is at my fingertips?  They do look impressive though...

But because I decided not to move, I thought it would be a good idea to de-clutter the house and make it look more open.  One thing I realized was that I seldom read books anymore.  So the first project was to reduce all the bookshelf display space. 

I was astonished at how much sci-fi I had.  I was also astonished to realize that I hadn't the slightest idea of the plot of at least half of them.  I packed those into 7 boxes for storage (I can't get myself to simply dispose of them, though I may donate them to some worthy cause later).  I kept the rest, but double-shelved them in the computer room bookcases to save space. 

Then I moved most of the information books from the living room bookcases to the newly-freed computer room bookcase shelves.  I could probably pack up most of those too, but I at least want to display my interests, and even with the internet, many of them are still useful.

The living room bookcases will become mostly for decoration and display.  I have some sets of books that are either valuable (anyone ever heard of "Real Books" or "All About Books"?), presentable (like the uniform 20something book set of gardening and the similiar fishing and hunting set - both from those "once a month" subscription series popular in the 1980s), or impressive (like Winston Churchill's 6 volume series about WWII).

[Speaking of Churchill, I have to mention one of my favorite anecdotes.  Churchill was seated at a fancy dinner party next to a stuffy old dowager who intensely disapproved of him.  At one pointed she hissed "Winston, if you were my husband, I would poison you".  To which Churchill famously (and immediately) replied "Madame, if I were your husband, I would let you".  Damn, I wish I could think that fast!]

Well, anyway, back to the books...  Almost all of the non-decorative books are in the computer room (my cookbooks are staying near the kitchen).   Some of the books I discovered I owned amazed me.  Books on magic tricks, odd things to do with common household items, Gray's Anatomy, World Almanacs, Twain's 'Life On The Mississippi', the collected works of Edgar Allan Poe,  college textbooks from the 1970s.  Just amazing stuff.

I might even start reading again...


Megan said...

I used to have a lot of books, but I'm over them. I use the library for fiction and the internet for non-fiction - the only exception is quiltmaking books. I understand, however, a reluctance to toss them in the paper recycling bin. I found it much easier to give them to a charity shop.

Sydney, Australia

Fuzzy Tales said...

I also used to have a lot of books, though certainly not the number you have.

Over the years I've donated most of them, bit by bit, till now I'm left with only a few favourite authors and a handful of hardcovers on topics that resonate with me.

Now, with my KOBO, I use my e-reader exclusively. Part of me misses the feel of a real book, even just a fiction one, but I just can't beat the convenience of being able to store hundreds of books on one device.

Two things I always keep in mind: downsizing (even though this is a small townhouse) and death. LOL. With no family here, no siblings or kids, someone eventually will have to go through my "stuff" and dispose of it. The less I leave, the better. :-)

The Selvage Fairy said...

Around here, our grocery store sells used books for the soup kitchen.
We have also donated many to our local library, for themselves and to sell.