February 16, 2009

Confessions of a Book Whore

My brother is to movies what I am to books, and rates each film by whether he'll see it in the theatre, buy the DVD, watch on television, or skip it altogether. I'm thinking I need a similar scenerio for books. It used to be so simple ("could it be that it was all so simple then..."): If it had a cover with pages in between I wanted to own it. Now I've reached the saturation point where less is more. I'm returning to my roots (the library). Here are the three levels for books:

Library:

The pluperfect rentable book is Joe Torre's "The Yankee Years", unless you're like, say, 144th on the list and won't be able to get the book until you're old(er) and gray(er). Sports books are those which I almost never re-read. Another book I want to check out is Robert Samuelson's "The Great Inflation", but an even better example is a book like Peter Schiff's about surviving the coming Great Depression. Since most books about economics and market predictions are wrong I feel better about not having given my money towards one. (In fairness, Samuelson's book is not a predictor of inflation but a historical look back at the '70s.)

Kindle:

A Kindle book is a book that I won't spend a lot of time flipping back and forth. The e-reader medium is limiting and encourages a sequential reading. Novels are ideal, especially novels I'm unlikely to read again. The Updike novel "Widows of Eastwick" was an easy Kindle decision since it was something I wanted to take my time with (i.e. no library) but also was unwilling to shell out $18-$20 bucks for.

Own Actual Book

This is a category into which spiritual books, reference books, art books and obscure books might fall, the types of books where there is the hope for re-consulting. Also, many books simply aren't on Kindle or even at the library such as the biographies of Hester Thrale and Orestes Brownson.

6 comments:

Darwin said...

What about "Books I want people to see on my shelf when they visit my house, regardless of whether I'm likely to read them -- or, let's be honest, have read them in the first place."

Surely an important category which needs must be acquired in hard copy and shelved on quality bookshelves.

TS said...

I've never had that particular difficulty since I don't hang in circles where anyone's impressed by books.

But I do think an important sub-category is: "Books that have an attractive binding such that if I half-shut my eyes I can believe I'm in the rare book room of the New York Public Library."

Anonymous said...

Dear TSO,

I'm at the stage of everything goes to Kindle because I can keep my notes and have my whole library and refer to something that is utterly out of the realm of the present book I'm reading, but important to understanding the point. A Copernican system, for example in reading _A Study in Scarlet_. Owning books is fine--but I'm at 30,000 and counting (I still buy 'em) and the charm evaporates for things that I want to have to-hand--because I want everything where I can reach out and grab it. Kindle lets me do that. Kindle makes me very, very happy.

shalom,

Steven

TS said...

I think I'm getting there Steven, just a bit behind you. It is so nice to be reading a book and then want to refer to another book and being able to via Kindle.

Roz said...

There are books I want to own, and then there are books that, once I own them, I want to keep them easily accessible because visiting them again is like visiting an old friend. There are a number I reread annually -- they're never going on the top shelf of the case on the other side of the rec room.

By the way, I think you're the person who turned me onto Elizabeth Goudge. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

TS said...

Not familiar with Elizabeth Goudge, much as I'd like taking credit! :-)