“Who wants a library full of books you’ve already read?”— Harlan Ellison, Angry Candy
Not so long ago, I bought a new bookcase. We needed one– between my son and I (mainly me) our books were overflowing the available shelf space. I bought a nine-cube thing that more than suited our needs. With it, and our other two bookcases (yes, one is a coffin), all was good and perfect.
As I write this, we currently need a new bookcase because we are, once more, out of shelf space (and, again, it’s mainly because of me).
Can a person have too many books? I don’t think so. My “To Be Read” list is considerably long (I’m not bragging, it just is) and it seems to grow on an, almost, daily basis. I’ll think of a book I’ve always meant to read, or read a review of a new novel, and search it out. Often, I’ll discover some obscure title and see if it’s on Amazon. More times than not, I’ll purchase the book(s).
I can’t borrow a book from a library because I never know when I’m going to read any particular book. I have unread books I’ve owned for multiple years. People have told me, “You should read the books you have before you get any more.” Why? This way I always have a choice, I know some new treasure is waiting for me to discover it on the shelf, or in my Kindle library.
Also, from past experience, I’m afraid if I don’t buy the book (or special commemorative edition magazine) when I see it, it may not be there when I return for it. I could buy it online, true, but there’s a certain connection with a store bought book. I have numerous e-books, but a physical book is special. I saw it, I picked it up. I chose it, it chose me. Plus, physical books have that new book smell and the used ones have that old book smell. Both are intoxicating.
When I finish a book, I usually know the next one in line. Occasionally, I read like watching a block of television programming: a couple of chapters of fiction, a few of nonfiction. There are times I begin a book only to put it down, and not always because I don’t like it. Sometimes, one of us isn’t ready for the other just yet (I’m weird like that, maybe). I doubt I will ever read all the books I own, and I probably will not write all the stories which exist in my head (at least I hope not, so far it’s been a goodly deep wellspring).
My writing habits pretty much follow my reading habits. For me, the two go hand in hand: the reading recharges my brain for the writing, it stimulates my mind. I often have two writing projects going at once, very rarely three, but no more. Although, I must admit, I don’t always write every day. I try to, but there are times when my mind, heart and soul aren’t up to the task. I do, usually, read daily; I find it’s relaxing as well as refreshing and often it encourages me to write.
Much in the way I have owned books for several years I haven’t read, I have stories that remain unwritten. I know the stories, I know, mostly, how they would unfold, but I have to wait for them to surface. They can’t always be hauled up, or dredged from the riverbed. It’s like they swim just under water and, eventually, they emerge from whatever the pool of creativity is for me to spill onto the page.
I heard it said once that if you know how to read you will never be without a friend. I have a lot of friends in my home. Some I know quite well, others I’m only mildly acquainted with, right now at least. In the strange, wonderous world of literature, if I may ever write something which can be a friend to someone else, then, to me, that’s a darn fine definition of success.