When you look at your bookshelf, do you see rectangular units of paper, ink and glue. Or something more?
I look at my bulging shelves and immediately feel that I’m involved in a big, private conversation. To me, within each book is an element of a writer’s soul.
Books are just a little bit sacred
Books always have been more than the sum of their parts (why else would extremists and repressive regimes burn them?) To dispose of one without respect, even one whose spine has collapsed, or which has been insulted with turned-over page corners or tea stains, feels wrong somehow.
To me, a physical book is more than a possession. More even than a symbol of another person’s sustained creative output. A book is the touchable, stroke-able link between writer and reader. The solid handshake, one to another.
I’m moving home, and once I’ve downsized, I’ll have more books than will fit on the available shelves. I have to weed out, as much I can bear. I’ll then promise not to buy any more, a promise that will be broken, of course. The illogical hunger for books is a good thing. It can’t make you fat. Kept within reason, it won’t draw you into debt. It makes you happy, and keeps writers happy too. Books make the world a more communal place. Bookcases are where words go to sleep.