Friday, June 25, 2010

A lifetime's worth

Yesterday I showed you my yarn stash, one that will certainly last me decades at the fastest foreseeable rate of consumption. Today I'm thinking about the book stash that I've had all my life and continue to accumulate. These days it's more on my Kindle than in physical form, thank goodness, but I still love finding a book I want to read and adding it to my queue.

I've always loved libraries more than any other social institution. My parents could park me there all day when I was a kid; in college I spent countless hours exploring their riches. I used to keep lists of books I wanted to read, first on sheets of paper (writing as small as possible, with columns for call number and title), then on Hypercard stacks and e-mailed search results. I thumbed through every reader's guide and best books list I could, in book, newspaper, or magazine form, to add to my list.

I've never stopped doing that, although at least 95% of the books on those various lists remain unread, and although long weeks and months go by when I read nothing except what I must for my work. It's still a joy to find the books and file them away, anticipating the joys of immersing myself in them someday, secure in the knowledge that I'll never be at a loss when I have the urge to read for my own pleasure. Just today I came across an enticing list of novels about domestic life in the midst of some other research I was doing, and I couldn't resist dropping everything for ten minutes to look up the authors on Wikipedia, Amazon, Project Gutenberg, and my local libraries' catalogs to see how many of the books in the list were easily accessible to me.

There will be a sight more books left over at the end of my life than yarn, I hope. But the whole point of such a stash is that it is an opportunity, not an obligation. Knowing that running out of one's chief pleasures isn't a problem -- well, it lends all of life an air of abundance.

No comments: