Friday, July 17, 2009

"A room without books is like a body without a soul" -Cicero

Cicero sure was right. Even back around 70 BC when he said that. I have books in every room of my house. I try to reduce my consumption of other objects and gadgets in my life so I can splurge on my love of books. I blame my parents for my book-hoarding gene, they both have large collections. My mother practically has her own lending library, I often leave her house with an arm full of a dozen or more.

I was pleasantly surprised to find a few followers who also love the smell of a book. Think about that. The smell of a book? Next time you walk past a used book store pop in for a moment and inhale. What do you smell? I smell memories of curling up in a hammock on a fall day with Nancy Drew, my old copy of Goodnight Moon I probably chewed to death as a toddler, trudging through the Brothers Karamazov trying not to lose track of the characters... Books have one of the best scents ever.

A big part about my trying to live more mindfully is to be aware of the things that I would otherwise normally forget about. Reading a good book is more than just the words: it's the smell of the paper, the feel of the paper, the weight of it, the soft sound the page makes as I turn it, the pressure the corner of the hard binding makes in my stomach as I lie on the couch transfixed by the characters.

I don't think I will ever download a book and read it on a screen. I feel like that's somehow cheating. I don't care if I can carry one hundred novels around on my laptop when I can only cram two or three in carry-on luggage. I just don't ever want to be without the smell, feel and other sensations a book gives you while reading it.

Likewise I have similar feelings about my ipod. I miss vinyl. I am actually old enough to covet the sensation of opening up the book-like cover of a double album, hearing the creak of the cardboard, admiring the art and reading the words covering every square inch. Then slipping out its papery sleeve releasing the scent of 70s, feeling the grooves of the recording on the vinyl. Finally balancing the needle on the record as you start to hear the crackles of the empty space before the music starts.

As technology replaces books and records I will hold on to my old-time collections. And I will gladly lug around a two pound copy of Harry Potter in hardcover. The day my copies of book seven arrived on the porch with a thug (we ordered TWO copies so my husband and I could read it at the same time) I ran out and thanked the mail man. He said, "I've been carrying a lot of those around today" with grimace. It's good to know that I'm not the only one who still loves a book, and a long long one at that. Are you also sad when a good book ends? That's why I keep so many of them around. It's nice to know that I can visit the characters again whenever I want.


  1. books and old records are the truly 'interactive products'

  2. Wonderful post! You already know how I feel about books. I am a bit of a kook but my favorite place to hang out is our local library. It is heaven for a book nut like me. And my husband thinks I am crazy when I tell him I want to go to Barnes and Noble, not to shop, but to sit in an alcove with a book and watch and listen.

  3. This is a lovely post! Books are definitely my consumerism vice--I'm usually reading at least three books at one time and I have a long list of books I own that I haven't read yet. I especially love used books because you often come across comments or writing from the previous owner or you find little bookmarks already in the pages--I love discovering things like that in old books. Thank you for posting this--what you say about digital books is exactly how I feel. Someone who doesn't LOVE books just wouldn't understand that it isn't the same to read a screen as it is to hold the pages within your hands. What a wonderful post to begin the day!

  4. Lulu: I agree! my kind of interaction too!

    Rae: libraries are one of my favorite places too! Lizzie and I went there yesterday and I was so happy to reacquanit myself with all my old favorite kid books. We walked out with a stack her her and, alas, nothing for me. Barnes and Nobles was actually my husband and mine date place before the baby.

    Melissa: glad to know that books are also so many people's consumer vices too! I'd rather mass produce books than cell phones, ipods and other gadgets (even though I own both, I admit, but they're both pretty old!) I've been reading through your blog, I will comment soon, it's very interesting!

    thanks for visiting -kate

  5. Even though I sometimes download a book on a pda or laptop for travel I have a house filled with books. I was going through some a few days ago and found my copy of My Cousin Rachel which I've had since I was in my teens. I also dusted off a paperback copy of Silent Spring.

    I really miss the album covers and all that beautiful art. I still have a couple of Beatles albums and a copy of Fleetwood Mac's Rumors.

  6. SQ: I have a few of my mom's Beatles albums and all of her Simon and Garfunkel collection. And her old paperback Lord of the Rings she bought when she was at Oxford. I love those things. I had a feeling you'd have a house filled with books! thanks for stopping by! -kate

  7. Kate,

    Reading books is still my favorite past time, we buy it and avoiding downloading. We read mostly Paolo Coehlo's books and some other interesting ones. In fact, I encourage the young generation to read more books than waste their playing online games haha. I am still keeping my old fairytale books, some very old prayer booklet which use to be my Grandmom's.


  8. I miss albums too and you've brought back fond memories of opening that new album. I am not much of a reader, I used to be though. I love escaping into another world through words, sadly I just don't have the time anymore.

  9. Sitting outdoors with a laptop cannot compare to sitting outdoors with a book.


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