Monthly Archives: January 2012

Books, or, how to justify constant capitalistic acquisition of organised words, or, the mechanism of transfer between the physical world and the psyche

I like books.

Reading is great! Some of the fondest memories of my childhood is reading and being read to. Roald Dahl, Emily Rodda, even Tolkien.

A few years ago I gave back all the books I’d gradually acquired from my parents, stuff I’d read and then just sort of… kept. It left my shelves sadly bare, and this, combined with my increasingly disposable income, led me to start buying books again.

I like bookshops.

There’s one here in Brisbane, narrow aisles between teetering shelves, yellowing hand-written labels, ancient creaking floorboards. It looks and feels and smells incredible, and I love it. But lately some of my favourite books to buy and hold and read are the orange Penguin classics – ten dollars, unadorned, and yet oddly lovely to have.

I like books.

In the end I’m not particularly well-read. The classics are mostly a mystery – though I do try. I have a huge pile of Discworld and print editions of webcomics and Calvin and Hobbes and some trashy bestselling paperbacks. Add some half-understood (and likely underappreciated) poetry and a few staples and that’s the bookcase.

Even now, with my Kindle collection growing, I’ll never stop buying books (or reading them. Eventually. I’d hate to make a pile of those I’ve bought and never read, especially after the Lifeline Bookfest 2011 – it’d reach the ceiling). Because I love the feel of them, holding them in my hand. It’s not an original concept, but that’s okay too. Holding a perfect rectangluar prism in my hand, feeling the flex of paper and embossed covers and smelling the powder of old pages or the fresh-printed tang of new – that’s where it’s at.

Having a simple shape which contains all the arcs and sparks of a story, the heady blaze of poetry, the steady hum of non-fiction – the way things work. Holding that in your hand and knowing it contains all of these things is a wonderful feeling and I’ll never get sick of it.

An e-reader is exactly the same thing, I suppose – even more so, with the huge collections you can store on that one little pad – but it’s just not the same. Probably vanity or – gasp! – hipsterism? but having a huge collection of books, crowded shelves – I love that too.

(Originally posted on Win Condition)

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