I am drawn to bookshelves. It’s one of the first places I look whenever I visit someone’s house. You can find out a lot about a person, I think, from what they’ve got on their bookshelves and it often leads to a common ground.
I’ve read that too, remember when – , what did you think about –
Even though reading is a personal experience, it can also be immediately shared.
I was thinking about this last night as I reached this passage in ‘The Time Traveler’s Wife’:
“I find coffee in the fridge, and find the coffee maker, and start the coffee. While I wait for it to brew, I peruse Henry’s bookshelves.
Here is the Henry I know. Donne’s Elegies and songs and sonnets. Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe. Naked Lunch. Anne Bradstreet, Immanuel Kant. Barthes, Foucault, Derrida…..”
I have stopped buying books. I download them on my iPad because it is immediate and it responds to my indecision about what I want to read. It also seems more economical, given that I already have an attic full of books from my university days, and because I’m getting increasingly aware of how much I waste.
Sounds sensible, yes? And yet –
I wonder what will happen when our libraries of books and collections of music exist only in electronic format on iPads and kindles and phones. Whether there will be more opportunities for I’ve read that too, remember when – , what did you think about – if we share things electronically, or if that process won’t translate.
I guess it could go either way.
I have been working out why this matters so much to me. After all, it’s not as though I have studied each of my friends’ bookshelves or CD (remember those…) collections, and I am still slightly struggling with the reading anything longer than a web page thing. Plus, we could always just have a conversation.
Maybe it feels like a narrowing of the avenues of communication or something though. As if the subtleties and intimacy of exploring where someone’s imagination might have been are lost. As though it stops becoming an exploration and becomes more akin to a presentation: this is what I want you to see.
Maybe this isn’t about books or bookshelves. Maybe it’s about a wider shift in how we’re starting to live?