On Books and Trophies
My bookcases are overflowing. I have boxes of books in a closet that I have not unpacked since the last move because I have no shelf space for them. I acquire new books frequently. I may have finally figured out why I have so many books.
While watching Dexter the other day, I was hit with an interesting insight, which may or may not be original. Dex finds his way into a serial killer's house and notes the killer's collection of trophies. These were award plaques hanging on a wall for various projects he had undertaken that correspond with and commemorate his kills. If you watch Dexter, you will know that Dex has his own collection of trophies. I thought about that while thinking about the Kindle and book piracy and music downloading.
I have zero interest in the Kindle or any other eBook reader. To me, an eBook reader is about as exciting as a lump of coal. I have always loved the tactile experience of reading: turning the pages, holding the book, appreciating the design, deciding if the font is a good choice, touching the paper. Much of that disappears when a book is transformed into ones and zeros. I think that sucks and it could well mean that the end of the world is upon us. I feel the same way about music: I like to own the CD, not an inferior digital copy.
For some reason, I do not necessarily feel this way about movies or TV shows. These have always been disposable to me. Although I own some DVDs, I don't have an urge to collect them, unless they are absolute favourites, like Seinfeld, or are ludicrously cheap, like Strangers With Candy (the movie), which I bought for $1.99.
I have often wondered why I like to own books. I rarely read library books and I rarely borrow books from others. I like to own books. Here's another curious fact: I rarely read books twice, though it has happened (Brave New World, for example). So, why do I own them? Well, there I was watching Dexter and then it occurred to me that perhaps I get the same pleasure from having shelves of books as Dexter does from having a bunch of microscope slides with drops of blood. Both are trophies.
I can look at my shelves and feel a certain sense of accomplishment, a certain sense of erudition (though that is arguable), and a certain sense of my own history from what I see lined up. Of course, if that were truly the case, I ought to eliminate the books I attempted to read but stopped from boredom or frustration. But, I suppose they are also part of my reading history. There are, of course, those books I have acquired but never got around to reading. Maybe someday, my pretties, maybe someday.