What will become of the book case? The shelf, the stack and the pile?
Til now, a home is not a home that doesn’t have at least one wall given over to jostling colourful spines. Books read, loved, received, abandoned. The shelves tell their own story.
The progress from empty shelf to bulging, double-stacked collection charts the chapters of a life. And a book case isn’t a static thing, it grows like at tree. Volumes are shed in clearings out and givings away, only to make way in the spring for the new, fresh discoveries.
But it’s more than just a place to keep reading matter. Of course it is. It’s vanity, declaration, revelation and, sometimes deception. Are there intellectual tomes you aspire to? One day, I’ll read that. When I’ve got time. Topics selected to shine a little light on another facet – mountains I’ve climbed, subjects I’ve learned, places I’ve visited. I am the kind of person who needs that text in her life. Dog-eared is essential, it proves the point. It’s a written representation of the sum of my parts.
And the secrets. Where do you keep the books that don’t come up to scratch. The lusty pot-boilers, the romance with the garish cover, the porn? I’ll bet they’re stashed on a another shelf that visitors don’t see.
What of the joy of shuffling crab-wise in front of the book-lined walls of an emporium, treasure-trove of literature? Head tilted: “Ah, look. I read this when I was at school. Oh, I didn’t know she’s written something else.” Flicking through the boxes at the jumble sale. “Have I read that before?” Three for a pound.
But, then, in my bag. A shiny, glossy, glorious new e-reader is nestled. If I want a book, I press a few buttons and it ping-zips onto the virtual shelf. A little stroke and the pages turn. Too dark, to light, to small, no problem. Sigh. It’s just so easy and lovely.
So what will become of the book case?
As time passes will the spines get dusty and faded, tired of telling their tale of a reader in 2011? Will books join those techno dinosaurs the videotapes when even the charity shops don’t want them? If I clear the space, what’s going to happen to that wall in the sitting room? Is another painting of the sea the only memorial the book shelf will get?
What will become of the book case?