Monday, October 31, 2016

Books! Books! and Additional Books!

This evening I did a little book-shifting in an attempt to force this apartment to make sense. (Yes, it's over a month since we moved in and no, I haven't finished emptying boxes and organizing and tidying. That's just how it is.) On the shelves in the second bedroom, the books pile two-deep and sideways, and yet there are empty shelves in the living room. So I moved all my Marilyn books and most of my film books to the shelf next to the TV (get it? *finger-gun click*). And now the shelves in the bedroom groan a little less.

Click to embiggen if you're nosy like me. The Marilyn books are mostly in shadow, which is not terribly helpful for the purposes of this anecdote, but getting a decent picture would mean moving the lamp, and eh all over that.

At first I couldn't find the smaller Marilyn books, the paperbacks, and as I was scanning the shelves in the second bedroom, awareness of all of the books on the shelves that I've read - most of them - flooded in, overwhelming me. The plots of them, or the stories, or the arguments, or the characters. And memories of where I got them all: which ones were gifts, which ones were finds on used bookstore shelves, which ones I stupidly bought full-price in hardback because I was just that obsessed with Sookie Stackhouse. I read that and that and that. Oh, and that. Oh, man, Matheson was such a better writer than I imagined he could be. Ooh, I was in no way ready for radical feminism when I bought that Sadie Plant book.

Pictured: A shelf that makes no sense yet, because I haven't organized the bookshelves throughout the apartment like I organized the one above, and no, that's not driving me crazy at all. But this was one of the shelves in view during my little epiphany. 

This sensation - an awareness of the sheer wealth inside those covers and hence inside my head - ran counter to what I usually think and feel when I look at a shelf of books. Namely: the nag of my own mortality. The intolerable truth that I will not be able to read them all; that I will not live long enough for that; that no human lifespan is that long. But seeing what I've already consumed, appreciating the heft of it, knocked me back a little. Maybe I haven't read all I want to, but I have read many, many books. And perhaps, for just a moment, I can be satisfied.

I've read all of these, except for the big gray book, which is The Best American Short Stories of the Century, which is really more of a reference book. And it elevated my monitor very nicely for a while there. 

Books have seen me through so many years. The books in the bedroom, in particular, but books in general. I don't know how people pass through a life without reading passionately and addictively. I honestly do not know.

The To Be Read shelf. I arranged a bookcase near the kitchen largely for this purpose. 
And finally, an acquisition at the Iliad today. I'm not sure I have a sincere intention of reading this, but I couldn't resist.
Could you? 

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