walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

playing with books

I used to spend a lot of time playing with books. I rearranged my library every little while: changed the subject categories, how I alphabetized, where stuff was shelved. I'd buy new shelving. I'd move shelving from one room to another. Some of this was to optimize space (i.e. wedge more books onto the shelves). Some of it was a part of weeding/purging/making room for more new books. A lot of it was just the fun of looking at each physical book and contemplating where it belonged. It was also a way to remind myself of books I owned that I had not read, or had not reread recently, and sparked a desire to open up a volume or two and dive in.

Given that the kindle doesn't supply any facility -- either in the media library or on the kindle itself -- for organizing things, that pleasure does not translate to the virtual world well at all. I don't even bother to index on LibraryThing all my kindle purchases (maybe some day. . .).

As I have been cataloging my physical books as I pack them up for the move -- something I fervently desire never to have to do again, and given that I plan to move again when the kids are grown, I sure hope to transfer the bulk of the library to virtual form before then -- how do I feel about the loss of this activity? It would be easy to wax poetic, as so many self-described readers have before me: to lovingly describe the smell of physical books, the feel of the binding, the crackle of the paper.

Blah, blah, bleeping, blah.

But I have kids, and I have complex politico-socio-psychological issues with hiring someone to clean my stuff. As a result, my books are dusty (I used to dust them when I played with them. No play, no clean = dust). The dust makes me sneeze and cough. The dust gets in my eyes. I worry about the dust collecting in my son's bedroom and aggravating his asthma. I think about how I should try to find the time to dust, and then about how dusting is so much less important than just about anything else I could be doing with my time. Like smiling at my baby. Or sleeping. Or googling news articles for kindle and dmca to find out what the latest developments are.

Intellectually, I think I should miss playing with books. In reality, playing with books has been replaced by buying books and reading them. I used to play with books because I didn't have money to just buy any book I wanted, so I bought more of them used, and more of them were weak substitutes for the (new, expensive, hardcover) books I really wanted. Also, I used to really want to want to read more non-fiction, but in practice, I just wanted to read genre crap over and over and over again. Now, I get pretty tired of the genre crap, and revert to non-fiction fairly regularly.

This is kind of a weird head space to find myself in. A good head space, but unexpected.
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