Do you ever feel like you are drowning in book? I LOVE books! I love reading the stories in books, but more than that, I love the physical reality of books. They have a weight to them, they have their own scent. While reading them, they fill my field of vision so that I am immersed in the pages. While reading, I remember where I was up to by how far through the pages I was. Some are illustrated. Books can have beautiful bindings, and end papers and fonts. They just look gorgeous. In my mind, my library looks like the image above. In reality, it’s messy and crammed to overflowing.
My love of books began before I can recall. My mother tells me I learned to read by myself – no one taught me but by age three I could read. When I was about seven, I recall waking in the middle of the night and pulling the covers over my head so I could read by torchlight.
Browsing book shops, new and second-hand, has always been a passion. Finding bargains online on Amazon or e-Bay and wanting them so badly I just have to have them whether I need them or not. For the last couple of years I have only been buying hard-back books; no more scruffy paperbacks. Now the books in my library must look beautiful on the shelf or beside the bed, as well as be an irresistable read. Paper covers are discarded to show off their beautiful spines. As far as I am concerned, the dust jacket is just a piece of wrapping paper, no matter how pretty it is. I want to see the book itself, not the packaging. Why are they called dust jackets anyway? They don’t keep dust off the books on my shelves which get dusty on the top. Except of course, Folio Society books which come in a slipcase which covers everything but the spine. They are my favourites.
Now I am trying to become a minimalist because I don’t want to be tied to posessions. Parting with books is very hard because I love my books. Books are important to my family. When my husband and I first moved in together, it was mixing our book collections and getting rid of the duplicates that was the real commitment to the relationship. My two sons are always reading; my daughter is a writer and took English Literature at university. Even though they no longer live with us, they have a lot of books here. The video shows most of our books and there are more in the kitchen (cook books) and in our bedroom.
Switching to e-books
I’ve tried reading e-books on my iPad, even on my iPhone. I have the Kindle app and I have iBooks – Apple’s own book-reading app. I was successful at the first book I read this way – a light and relatively easy read for my book club. I thought this might be an easy transition and useful at the least for those books I am unlikely to read a second time. The second book was difficult to read electronically – one of those stories that jumps back and forth through time and needs a lot of flipping back and forth to catch up. The third book was an illustrated children’s book and though the pictures looked quite OK, they looked much nicer in the physical book.
I’ve just finished the fourth book on the Kindle app and it was actually a better experience for me than the other book-clubbers who read the paper book. This is because it was very footnote-heavy and they were all annoyed at having to refer to foot-notes all the time whereas the e-book had the footnotes after the relevant paragraph.
So e-books are good for some reads, and not so good for others. I will persevere though because I’d really like to get my library down to … dare I say 100 books? Could I ever part with so many precious friends and only keep 100?
What will I do to get there anyway? A lot of these books are really expensive so I’m reluctant to just donate them to a charity shop. But who has the time to list them all on e-bay? They are also heavy and the postage costs are high.
The title of this was originally “Books: real or e-books?” But when I thought about it, that seems to suggest that e-books are not real books. Well, what is a book anyway? Is it the story? Not all books have a story – there are atlases and dictionaries and What Bird is That? books. Some books are actually more than one physical volume. For instance, Game of Thrones first five books are published in seven volumes. Is part two of book five still a book on its own?
Have you made the switch to e-books? What device do you prefer? Do you throw away the dust-jacket on a hardback? What shall I do with all the books I no longer want to keep?