they’re everywhere…… stacks and piles, on shelves, coffee tables, and a lot of times in my hands….. i can remember when i was in 6th grade and the mobile book library rolled into Stratford… i bought two books, Richard Henry Dana’s Two Years Before the Mast and Herman Melville’s Billy Budd… i bought them i think because of the illustrations on the covers…. they sat in book shelves for years… were transported from state to state as we moved… and they moved from one book shelf to another…. i never read them for over 30 years but i knew someday i would and eventually i did… and after reading them i wonder what took me so long….. you see i have a thing about books… i love to have them around… i have shelves of books that i still haven’t read… did i buy them because i knew i would read them or i just wanted them around like a good friend… i just wanted them on shelves because i could always find them in the future …..i love bookstores…. to wander from shelf to shelf, always finding books that i would love to read… how many great books were found this way…. how often now do i go online to find books but problems usually arise which causes more books to be added as i’m usually referred to “other books that people have bought” and how many great books were found this way…..
our community library, a great library but very seldom will you find me wandering the aisles…. i would rather buy the book, it becomes mine when i buy the book… another friend that i do not have to ever part from…..
while reading a book recently , it was a biography on an individual who even more so than i, always had books in his hands… while reading one book it would lead him towards another book and the pattern would just keep repeating itself….. i find that happening with me a lot of times and slowly the shelves get filled and eventually there are stacks of books in front of the books lining the shelves… books that will be read eventually but what i found interesting was that this individual referred to his books as “his library”….. i never thought of my shelves of books as “my library”… but as i look around my room its actually a library…. i have the shelves filled with books on whales, fish and fish management, my wilderness philosophers, travels and travelers and the list goes on… i guess you could even consider me a “book collector”as i have been known to think that i would love to have this book or that for my collection on let’s say evolutionary processes, maritime history or even biographies… i’m actually very proud of “my library”… look at the titles and you can probably get a good idea of the person i am or definitely the ideas that interest me…
reading an article in Smithsonian magazine, “The Paper Chase” which was about how Robert Fair de Graff changed the way and the amount that people read by introducing an American innovation, the “paperback book”…reducing the cost of reading material but also making books smaller and easier to use….. add the much earlier invention of the printing press and look at the volumes of books now readily available for us to use and also to fill the shelves of my book cases…. but paperbacks, being much smaller can be stacked in piles on my shelves actually taking up so much less space… good for now i have room for even more books… then add just in the last decade or so the smartphones and ipad-like devices with the app “ibook” i can now download literally thousands of books that i never knew existed and best of all i have a traveling library with me where ever i travel….. recently cruising around Cape Horn in South America i was able to read my favorite chapters from Two Years Before the Mast while following Darwin’s voyage and selecting chapters from Voyage of the Beagle…. these electronic books are great as i have included in my library so many great literary works that i could of never afforded to purchase prior…. the words and thoughts of some of the greatest philosophers are now mine to enjoy or journey with…… and then they didn’t take up any more space on my bookshelves…. but its just not the same as having a hardcover book in your hand… the weight, even a musty smell from a very old friend, and then what do i do with all the bookmarks that i have accumulated through the years….. a favorite photo, a ticket from a museum in Florence, a business card, or all those postcards i collected in my travels…
and all those book sales that i’m drawn to like a magnet……books that were discarded in garage sales…. no longer were their pages handled, corners turned over….. maybe even a thought or comment added…… i love to read footnotes some else took the time to write down, what were their thoughts at that moment…. a bookmark left behind… my eyes always search for even more titles included in the book’s jacket, authors comments, some authors familiar many unheard of…. my hands constantly touching….. soon i look down and my cart or bag may have a dozen or more treasures to be added to my library…. and when i get home and sit in my favorite chair the bag or box of new books on the floor, one by one i slowly explore the adventure or journey they may lead me on… many of these books will sit unread for years but they now have hope that their words will be felt by another set of eager and curious eyes… and now a place must be found for them to spend their days….. i rearrange some books possibly some may need to find a new home….
and i haven’t even begun to discuss all the magazines that i have accumulated and just can’t discard because of an article or two…… but now i just rip out the articles only to have filing cabinets of articles filed to be used or reread later….. i am thankful because at least all this additional reading material hasn’t taken up any more space on the shelves…
i can remember back in the 80’s when researching topics for my degree, the hours i spent looking through periodicals for a given paper….. today i just sit at my desk with my computer and log on to our local library and log into countless data banks to continue researching topics of interest….. i could just electronically file these papers on my computer but usually i will print them out because its that touching and holding the literary work, but once again, i have even more papers to file away….
and finally all those little black journals… all of them handwritten…. thoughts from journeys taken years ago… in them are the lessons i learned from each journey, lessons i carry with me each and everyday’’’’
and finally..remember that old episode on the TV show “The Outer Limits”.. an individual who loved to read and after a world-wide holocaust being the only survivor but happy as a clam as he can read now forever, undisturbed…and then he breaks his glasses… is this why i keep several pairs of readers with me when i travel… in case i break my eyeglasses
i think i’ll sit awhile now and read as another friend await its turn
tess julianna 12/12/13
(a portion of my library)