Enough books to keep you busy on a cold night
Some might even call them children. When in doubt, there is always the consolation of philosophy… or the consolation of books, at least. I find myself in a very strange place: I have far too many books for one man, and yet I feel as if I need more. This is not, I hope you understand, an impulsive binge-buying outlet, but rather my own little attempt at gathering my interests. I haven’t even read all of the ones I have, although in some cases I never will as that particular fancy has drifted off.
Perhaps it’s the simple fact that there is so much to be learned from books (I love learning). Perhaps I like how the occasional colourful turn of phrase keeps me interested (here’s a nice passage from Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent, where an anarchist dwells on the futility of his endeavours: “He drank and relapsed into his peculiarly close manner of silence. The thought of a mankind as numerous as the sands of the seashore, as indestructible, as difficult to handle, oppressed him. The sound of exploding bombs was lost in their immensity of passive grains without an echo.”) Perhaps there’s an element of the collector in me (I especially like the Thames & Hudson and Norton Critical Edition series).
This collection was one of my biggest splurges. Only time will tell if it was a sound investment.
Whatever the root cause of my acquisitions, spending the last day or so cataloguing and tabulating my small library — because it has expanded in the last three years and some have gone missing — has put me more in touch with what had, for some time, been mere volumes on the shelves. Small flashes of memory and connection as I thumbed through a tome looking for some small detail or description. Paths abandoned for lack of time, others for diminished interest. And yet above all else came the feeling that this is not the end of it, even if I never read every book in full. There will be more additions, and there are decades yet ahead of me to pursue new and even more obscure interests.
But where will I put them all?by