Thursday, February 28, 2013
The Perils of the Bookshelf
Pictured above is my bookshelf. Not pictured above are the books, boxes full of books, and envelopes containing books, that have overtaken my floor. I don't really begrudge the loss of space, but my books--or more importantly, the dust--does pose a health problem for me to the point that every time I go through my shelves, I eventually end up with a cold the next day. It's gotten to the point that when the parents renovated the house two years ago, I didn't get to organize my own bookshelf due to the accumulated dust. Instead, someone else organized my bookshelf for me, and my memory of which books I have (and don't have), and where they are located, have been fuzzy ever since. At this point, my only comment is yay eBooks.
Earlier this month, I found myself ransacking my shelves, boxes, and envelopes looking for specific books (which also leads to inadvertent trips to bookstores all around the city) to loan, to give, to present to a friend. I tell myself I won't get sick (I end up sneezing the rest of the night) and reassure myself that my book is somewhere (sometimes, they are gone, either trapped in our basement somewhere, or the book has found a new home months or years earlier in a similar predicament). On one hand, the process is exhilarating, the same thrill a collector might feel upon acquiring an obscure item at the right price. On the other hand, there is the ailment that follows, and disappointment when you fail to find the specific book and fault your aging memory.
More importantly though, this is a rare occurrence, as for most of the year, I am usually content to let my bookshelf idle and gather dust (I can easily imagine communities springing to life when my back is turned, torturing protagonists, giving birth to new settings, and perhaps inventing a new word or two). It was only upon self-reflection that I realize I braved the perils of my bookshelf only when I wanted to impress someone, and by someone, I mean an individual who actually takes the time to read books and appreciates them. A few years back, there was a meme about dating someone who reads, and while not every reader is our ideal partner (I'm a selfish jerk for example), I'd like to think that I'll eventually end up with someone who is passionate about books. There's always a narrative, even if it's failure, when we go about choosing a book for someone; there's the time spent thinking what they might like, going through the process of procuring that specific title, and then convincing them to read it (and even if you succeed, might not lead to the intended consequences, in the same way that readers don't always arrive at the author's intentions). My heart flutters every time I go through this even if this eventually (100% so far) leads to disappointment, heartbreak, and depression.
There are a lot of adages I can console myself with but that's not what matters. There is still that moment, however brief, of joy that is boiled down to possibilities. And that's perhaps the beauty of the bookshelf: that there will always be options and divergent paths that's open and unique to each reader.
Now if only they'd find a cure for my allergies...