Nostalgia v. practicality
I love my book collection. I don’t have a gigantic one, just a bookcase and a half filled with carefully selected titles. Books I could fathom reading again, and a few I actually have. Our bookcase faces the bed, and often when I’m getting in at night I’ll just sit there for a few quiet minutes gazing at the titles and letting my mind wander. Sometimes those few minutes turn into 15 or 20 without me really noticing. I think I crave the quiet after filling every minute of my day with noise and distraction.
image via we heart it
I hate clutter and it doesn’t usually survive long in our house but books have thus far mostly escaped my purges. This soft spot in my heart means that for the last couple of years we have been teetering on the edge of total book overload. We have had to get more and more creative with arrangement, including stacking books on top and across existing shelves.
We have also exhausted our capacity to add more bookcases to our home. Our place is not tiny, but we’ve learned that the reason an open layout makes a place feel bigger is because you can’t put much furniture in it. We used up our last good spot after the wedding when we needed to make room for all the specialized glassware we now owned. In the dining room, we filled the top section of an IKEA bookshelf with glassware and the bottom with books. This gave us some much needed breathing room, but after only 9 months we are back to bulging shelves.
Which brings me to my point: I’m actually considering buying an e-reader of some kind. I initially wrote them off because it just seemed so wrong. There is something so fulfilling about the story literally unfolding under your fingers as you flip the pages, feeling the weight of it in your hands, and the finality of closing that last page. An electronic contraption – even if holds the exact same words – just doesn’t seem as wholesome. It feels like it reduces an age-old activity of quiet concentration to another gadget of distraction. How would you even know when you’re getting near the end? When you need to slow down to draw it out just a little longer?
But then again, maybe nostalgia alone is just not a good enough reason to hang onto something. E-readers are arguably much better than my bookcase: they hold thousands of books and take up a tiny fraction of the space, while using very little power. E-books are cheaper to buy and you can share them with up to 4 other people (I checked). Plus, I could carry PDF’s on it as well, which would be handy as I read a lot of academic papers for work. And I could save space in my luggage.
Reading nook of my dreams via we heart it
So in clinging to my books – beautiful as they are – am I really any different than the (slightly infuriating) people who refuse to switch over to the new light bulbs just because they don’t give quite the same light, or those who refuse to give up their classic old gas-guzzler even though a newer model would be many times more efficient? Maybe it’s just time to admit that something newer is better. And it’s not as if I couldn’t buy a ‘real’ book every once in a while – sort of like lighting the fireplace for a special occasion.
Do you have an e-reader? Do you enjoy reading from it? Or should I just give up on having a futon in the guestroom/office and fill it with books instead?