Tuesday, May 14, 2013

No Paucity of Paper

 I have a deep ,dark, terrible, and  horribly kept secret. I love books. In fact, I  sort of hoard books.  If you came to our house in the last few years you would have noticed the  slow and steady accumulation of  bookshelves.  We had one or two in the living room, at least one in the back bedroom, and  one in the master bedroom.   There's a bookshelf my grandfather built and a small metal one we picked up at a yard sale somewhere. In addition to these  bookshelves being crammed with books on them, books lying on top of the books on them,  and books lying on their sides in front of those books, you  no doubt would have noticed the piles of books, and  boxes of books scattered around the premises.   I would say that its better now, but it's not, its just more centrally  located.  The entire  far wall of our bedroom is bookshelves and piles. In addition to that there are books stacked on  my nightstand and piled on top of every flat surface.  But the search and accumulation   never stops. I  cruise yard sales, and used book stores, and   I lie in ambush when our local library decides to  dump some books. I hit the  'free book rack' first, then I venture inside to  snatch up the dollar books. I dump them in the trunk of my car, and when I get home I try to find a  shelf or box or flat surface that they'll fit on.
   In my defense, if one could  hope to mount one, I don't  get books just for the sake of getting books. I actually read everything I  bring in. I suffer from an insatiable  curiosity about  a variety of topics. I recently picked up a tome  on how to conduct an exorcism. It's sitting in a pile right next to a book about the quest for the worlds largest small mouth bass. I have books on church history  snuggled right next to books on the search for Bigfoot.  I have a book of collected sea monster legends on the same shelf as a Ron Paul  book on Austrian economics.It is this eclectic  accumulation of dead trees that causes my wife to roll her eyes and causes me to sheepishly , and sometimes clandestinely, bring my latest haul into the house. Once someone gave us 17 long boxes of comic books ( about 250 a box), and I successfully  shifted them around the house to where my wife was never 100% sure of how many we had until I was able to sell off roughly half of them. But that's a whole different post.
  My insatiable hunger for the printed word seems to  chill when it comes to the  digital word. Yes, I wrote a book, and yes it was only available on Kindle for  a while ( I still am Kindle-less, cell-phone-less, and  ipod-less), but that was more a matter of economics than my love for small  flat e-readers. I just like books, and by 'books' I mean rectangular  compilations of pulpified  tree matter, not slim battery powered collections of magnetic ink and pixie dust.
  It may be a generational thing, but that's unlikely,  since my  wife loves her Kindle.  I got her a Kindle because a) I love her dearly, and b) her  collection of Amish romance novels was taking up valuable  shelf space.  I just like paper. I like the look of it, and the heft of it, and the smell of it, but I also like the fact that it  doesn't change.  I can write this blog, post this blog, then go back and edit this blog and you would have no indicator that I had changed anything. It is intangible, and subject to alteration.  Physical books are a set  quantity, and the   book I have from the 1800's ( yard sale) still say the exact same things, contain the exact same facts that they did when they were printed. They are  off-grid, untraceable and here to stay, at least until the paper rots.
  I can  justify my habit with  the best of them. After all, I'm always researching one thing or another, and I do refer back to them as needed, assuming I can find them. Ironically if Im doing  very mch internet research I will print it out so I cn hold it in my hand.  Plus we're homeschoolers! We're supposed to  have lots of books, it's part of the Code! Why just  yesterday my son needed to know the  difference between two different types of clouds (cumulus and stratus), and without the  Latin-English dictionary I snagged at an estate sale, why we'd be sunk!
  As vices go, I suppose its one of the more harmless ones. I dont do drugs, I dont chase wild women, I  pay my bills on time. But I'm always on the  prowl for more epistles. When the kids finally move out, one by one I'll probably take their rooms and convert them into more bookshelves. My  ever-patient wife will no doubt  accompany in my decling years, holding my hand and taking pity on me as I rummage through the local penny-saver  saying "Oh look, an estate sale!"
  Well I certainly feel better now that I've gotten this off my chest. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got some things to get out of the trunk of my car before my wife gets home.
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