Booking Through Thursday — Personality
It’s Thursday and time for Booking through Thursday. Today’s Question is as follows:
I was reading the other day a quote from JFK Jr who said on the death of his mother, that she died surrounded by family, friends, and her books. Apparently, Jackie’s books were very much a part of HER, her personality, her sense of self.
Up until recently, people could browse your bookshelves and learn a lot about you–what your interests are, your range of topics, favorite authors, how much you read (or at least buy books).
More and more, though, this is changing. People aren’t buying books so much as borrowing them from the library. Or reading them on their e-readers or computers. There’s nothing PHYSICAL on the shelves to tell strangers in your home, for better or worse, who you ARE.
Do you think this is a good thing? Bad? Discuss!
My Answer …
I take pride in my bookshelves, so I think it is a sad thing that people don’t rely on physical books as much. There is nothing more satisfying than going to a bookstore and browsing the shelves until you find that one perfect book to buy. However, books aren’t always cheap and I can understand people turning to the library and e-books which are cheaper alternatives. I know I have lately been turning to those resources myself. Does that mean that I will never buy a book again? No. Does that mean I won’t still work on filling my bookshelves? No. I think especially when it comes to favorite books people will still turn to the printed format and buy their own copies. Of course I could be very very wrong.
I do think, despite not having physical bookshelves, many people now have their own virtual bookshelves. There are many places where you can share what books you’ve read and what books you love. What is amazing about these places is you are not limited to sharing your library with just those who venture into your home, but you can share your library with the world. For instance, I use both this blog and goodreads to track my books, so I don’t lose the library books and e-books that I read.
I will always prefer my real bookshelf to my virtual bookshelf because I can physically touch the books and I know I can always go back to them. There are books I have read in e-book format or have checked out from the library that I know I will eventually buy in physical form for my library. I like to keep my favorites. A virtual bookshelf, no matter how well done, is limited by the fact that it can be erased at the touch of a button.
I guess my overall point is that though I don’t think the reliance on library and e-books is necessarily a bad thing … it isn’t really a good thing either. I don’t think it limits people’s ability to show off their love of books or their personality through a choice of books. Virtual methods for displaying your bookshelf are available, but there is always that danger of something virtual being easily destroyed. It can also become less personal because it is shared with the world rather than with an intimate few. Physical libraries are great and I take great pride in my own, but they can be economically taxing.
I read a biography recently of Thomas De Quincey (review here if interested). He bought so many books that not only was he in debt, but the books took over the house he was living in so he and his family had to move to another home entirely. I suppose this could be a danger of relying too much on your own personal library .
I think we all have to just find a fine balance between the books we buy, the books we borrow, and the books we read electronically to be happy.