I’m leaving early tomorrow morning for the weekend, and even though I had Friday’s post scheduled, when I spotted this week’s Weekly Geek question, “Why Haven’t I Read This Yet?”, it brought to mind at least one of the nagging questions raised by Gabriel Zaid in So Many Books that I just had to eek out a little time to answer it.
While Ruth at Weekly Geeks asked us to talk about a book (or books) we have been meaning to read (What is it? How long have you wanted to read it? And, why haven’t you read it yet?), my problem is far more ah, chronic than that.
In fact, I have a lovely stack of books here, desk-side, to review, read, and generally get lost in — and other stacks & sagging bookshelves for the same and other reasons.
I think sometimes my desire to own, the reality of time to read, and the love of books have given me a false sense of security when I buy books. It’s as if when I grab a book, clutch it to my bosom, and greedily pay for it, I loose all sense of reality… I cling to the fantasy of Someday.
Like all the boxes of ‘craft crap,’ I hold on to books for the great Someday when I will have time on my hands…
On one hand, this probably speaks quite a bit about of my precariously close to hoarding personality; on the other, I don’t think I’m that unique in my pursuits of piles of books.
* My eyes are bigger than my stomach — my appetite for reading greatly surpasses my time for reading.
* As a collector, writer & researcher, having my own library full of as of yet undiscovered information is a gift indeed. And, it may sound crazy, but sometimes I’m pretty sure I believe that just by owning books, by having them near, through some law of physics I will absorb all the knowledge, all the stories, all the lore & wisdom via osmosis.
* I believe in the serendipity of discovering books and the universe has blessed me with many finds; so I believe that universe will also serendipitously deliver the time to read the books (have the conversations) when I need to do so.
But mainly, I just don’t believe as Gabriel Zaid does, that “almost all books are obsolete from the moment they’re written, if not before.” I believe the opposite, actually, even though I mainly read non-fiction.
I find books from a time period often are the most accurate snapshots of the times in which they were written &/or published. Facts may be outdated, but passion & pursuit of the facts are never really outdated… Reading old books, out of print books, is to renew old conversations, illuminating so-called “current” conversations with corrections about assumptions, reminders of history lessons, and sometimes, a wisdom that’s too long been ignored or just plain forgotten. Sometimes, there’s just plain nostalgia. Maybe they are so quaint it’s funny. But saving old books, renewing previous conversations, remembering that this “now” we think is so important will also pass, is vital in my world view.
If it doesn’t matter to me how much time has passed between when the book is written & when the book is read, how can it matter how much time passes between when you bought a book & when you read it?
Basing your reading on “new only” or some inventory mantra of “first in first out” is an anathema to me. It conveys a materialistic aspect, diminishing books to temporality, objects limited to a short time of significance. As a collector, as a researcher, and as a reader I completely disagree.
And I have the stacks of as of yet unread books to prove it.