Sunday, April 20, 2008

books galore?

Question: what's the problem with being orally fixated and totally absorbed in a book?

Answer: biting my nails. seriously, they are painfully ragged right now. all because I've found a few good books recently and have therefore done nothing except curl up and read... but I still need to keep my hands/mouth busy, hence the nail biting.

ouch :-(

aaaaaaanyways.... onwards with another book-related post.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, Kim was wondering about those who display books like trophies. That totally resonated with me, and rather than hijack her comment section, I figured I'd ramble on about it here. Of course, that was many many many moons ago. But my rambling is as equally valid now, LoL :-)

Books have always been an important part of my life, and escape from the horrid reality of daily life, to worlds of dragons, of good versus evil, of independence, of discovering and nurturing a magical ability, etc etc etc.

Growing up, in Malaysia, the whole "borrowing from the library" was something we did very rarely, because getting to the library was a huge hassle! I remember doing that only a few times in my childhood, although we did patronise the British Council's library quite a bit for a while too... overall, though, we bought most of our books. As a result, we accumulated LOADS of books. We actually had a small room in our house designated as "the library", and I was the self-appointed librarian who arranged the books in categories like "parents (i.e. boring!)", "children's (which signified ownership by my brother and me, and not necessarily "young adult" or "childrens" books!), and I'd actually put a little label on each spine "F BLY" for an Enid Blyton book in the Fiction category. If we'd had computers then, I'd have made a spreadsheet to catalog the collection! (I only did that 2 years ago, LoL!)

Moving out the big ol' house into a dinky little apartment, all of us had had the threat of downsizing our book collections a bit, but one of the dinky rooms was quickly dubbed the library, and shelves were built-in as high as they could go to store all the books (and National Geographics, and gawd knows how many years' worth of Reader's Digests!), so we could comfortably fit our books *and* have room to spare for future purchases!

And now with my parents moving into the newer apartment, which really is way too large, but hey, with even *more* shelf space, the books collection seems to be really out of control.

Especially when you sit back and consider that *my* books are mostly packed away in a whole bunch of boxes... If I were to have them unpacked and displayed on shelves in Malaysia, well, let's just say the entire upstairs would be mine :-)

But I wouldn't do that, because if nothing else, those books are going to end up getting shipped here to the U.S., to become part of the collective Naranek household of books. Kosh too keeps tons of books, so whenever we do settle down semi-permanently into a house of sorts, one room will already have to be set aside just for books. And I'll have a field day categorizing them, and arranging them, and omg sometimes I can actually revel in tasks that others might find mindnumbingly boring and unnecessary, LoL :-)

But Why? you ask, Why bother keeping all these books? You've read them so give them away already! Noooooooooooo!! Because books are not just to be read once! And while I know of some people who think it's a great waste of time to reread books, I think it's a waste to NOT reread them! There are quite a few books that I have lovingly reread, over and over again (with a suitable gap between reading lah, of course)! Why? For the beauty of the story! For the emotions it whips up within me! For the inspiration, motivation,,, escape! My immediate example will always be The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. I've read it at least 3 times, maybe 4, in the span of 15 years, and every time I'm enthralled all over again by the tale of "pagan" vs Christian Britain told through the voices of the females surrounding King Arthur. I'm planning on rereading Stephen King's Dark Tower series, and refreshing my memory of the Harry Dresden books I have. I've read Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum numerous times now, each time feelng slightly less stupid and getting a better grasp on the tale which includes the Knights Templar, Rosicrucians, and conspiracies so complex that The DaVinci Code reads like a children's primer.

Sure, I have others that perhaps were not as outstanding a read, but are still worthy of being kept, of being reread in the far future. After all, among the "boring" "adult" books available to me as I was growing up, there were some I enjoyed, and I'd like to think that my kids, if ever Kosh and I have any, might also get bit early by the reading bug, and get to escape into other worlds familiar to their parents :-)

So... why bother to display them like trophies? Well, I did notice that Kosh does do that - when I first moved in with him in Urbana, his books were stuffed in boxes of shelves in the bedroom but Frank Herbert's Dune series, and Stephen King's Dark Tower series were on display in the living room. He can correct me later, but I think they were there to subtly inform inform visitors where his interests lie, perhaps to spark conversation that might otherwise have gone unspoken?

For me, however, I don't tend to single out books/authors for display. I'd rather have them *all* on display, neatly, in a library of my own. I'm proud of them all :-)

At this point in my life, however, I really can't bring myself to buy (m)any more books. Hence the practical use of the library. It's fulfilled the reading need in me, and that's most important.

I'm sure I'll start accumulating more books soon enough!

2 comments:

  1. Why was getting to the library such a hassle in Malaysia? Too many people?

    I hate getting rid of books too. I am not sure if I ever have. Maybe by accident, I loaned one to someone and didn't get it back!

    I love to organize my books too. I need to make a killer spreadsheet so I can keep track of them!

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  2. kim> the hassle was getting there (I vaguely remember it being at a really bad location, no parking, hard to get to). I think there weren't that many libraries at that time. Now there's a pretty good also in the center of town, but the equivalent of the "L" makes it much easier to get to. I, of course, have not been there, LoL!

    But to share with ya: in the mid-90's the National Library was constructed, closeby to where I lived, so one day I made my way there to check it out. And was rudely informed I couldn't enter if I wasn't a card-carrying member. So I argued that I'd like to see the place before I gave them RM 10 as a membership fee. So I was reluctantly allowed in. And yikes! It was such an unwelcoming place, and I couldn't find my way around - no signs or anything! - so I just walked out and never went back.

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