7.13.2005

I confess. I don't keep much of a library. Once I've read something, even something I love, I give it away. Housing Works Bookstore, a friend, a client, the lobby of my building; all have gotten my castoffs recently.

People are stunned when I tell them I don't have books. My reader friends are horrified. "But, but," they sputter "you LOVE books, you love to read!" Yes, I do. But I live in a small space, work in a smaller one, and I HATE clutter. I hate it more than I love books I guess.

What brought this to mind was John Perreault's Art Diary . Normally I read him for a blog's eye view of art but this time he's talking about artist's libraries.

I live with an artist. He doesn't keep books either.

Does this make us deeply suspect? (this is a rhetorical question, no snarky replies are needed!).

Actually I think it makes us either minimalists or Zen Buddhists. Detachment as a form of inner bliss.

How many books do you have?

10 comments:

Judith said...

I also get rid of a lot of books by passing them on, but I keep hundreds of books too. I can't imagine not being able to pull an old favorite off the shelf any time I want. My biggest storage problem is that bookcases take up wall space and so do paintings. I'm getting close to choosing between books and painting, and that won't be pretty.

Nancy Henderson said...

I'm not sure how many books I have. Probably over 1,000. They're used as coffeetables, end tables, a pillar for my cat to see out the window with...

Nancy Henderson

Chris Stephens said...

Proust didn't keep books either. Once he was finished with them he would give them away. But then I don't think we could call Marcel Proust a minimalist. Perhaps he needed a space significantly devoid of the printed word so that he could fill it up with so many millions of his own.

JJ said...

Dozens, but only the ones I read over and over. The rest go to the library.

Okay, if they have a fancy binding I'll keep them for the bookshelves. Or if it's something classical that I should read but don't want to but it makes me look smart to have it, that goes on the bookshelf, too.

Gina Black said...

I'm afraid to find out how many books I have. Even my TBR pile is daunting. BUT...(and you know I have one)...I just started the Great Purge of '05. With the exception of my research library, I'm Getting Rid of Books Big Time. I managed to purge at least 100 on Sunday as nice warmup. I'm thinking that it will gain momentum as I go.

ScaramoucheX said...

I have so many books that, when I moved house last year I slipped a disc moving them...which led to a stress fracture in my hip, because I kept running through the back pain....which led to a hernia (and surgery and recover)...which meant, in total, nine months of laying about, wounded and lamed...during which I began again the writing game. Dig it: love of books wounds me,love of books heals me...

Bill Peschel said...

I have several thousand books, but I don't read them. They're a psychological barrier that shields me from the knowledge of my ultimate, inevitable and probably horrible death. I can't die if I have a book I haven't read yet, you know.

My current non-reading favorite is Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle.

Jimmy said...

I have shitloads, much to my wife's dismay. I love them, I love owning them, I love the way they smell. As fetishes go, I don't think it's so bad.

David J. Montgomery said...

Thousands of 'em... but in my defense, I get rid of hundreds and hundreds more all the time.

Rachel said...

Interestingly enough, I have one small bookcase of reference material and a few really lovely hardcover photograph coffee table type books.

So, I guess I'm with JJ. I adore reading, but get most of my reads from the public library or give them away after devouring them...

I have a really wacky (though somewhat selective) photographic memory and re-reading books is therefore rather boring to me, as I can basically recount the whole story once I've read it once (but only if I liked it) though it's highly annoying to most people, so I usually just keep my mouth shut and pass the book around.