Saturday, March 22, 2014

Books as objects

It was perhaps the Argentinian writer Borges who better framed books as objects for me. I somewhat remember watching an interview of him describing his passion for books, saying that on some level just having the physical presence of certain tomes in his library was enough for him even if he could no longer read them, while passing his hand fondingly over the covers of the Britannica.

It was a happy discovery the invention of the codex. The format is easily portable, readable and allows easy flipping to any part which is unmatched by any other.  In fact, for all the listening and approbation of audiobooks I've made and that still will be doing, I still miss the flipping aspect. How can one search through audio?

The fondness of books can still reach unhealthy levels. Liking them is ok up to some point, but  loving them too much isn't. There's a sort of hylotheism (had to use the word for once) somewhere down there, investing passion on material objects.  Guess that my take is to appreciate  the nice volumes you already have and distract yourself away from those you've not.

Now, I don't want to act as if having the moral high ground. For my part I resist any markings, marginalia,  or annotations to books of other's or my own. Some say that's the way to really own a book. I believe that on one part it defaces their pristine beauty, even more if the tome in question is special in any sort of way, such as being a first or deluxe edition; on the other, it robs intellectual spontaneity from whoever might read next by imposing one's own, possibly wrong or shifting opinions, then and there. I also have bad handwriting. 

Now, if you're a yet-to-be-discovered Leonardo or are the author one my books you and your pen welcome to them.

If you can resist the temptation of physical books and still appreciate them, check:
  • Used & Rare by Goldstone & Goldstone, which deals on second-hand books in general from a collector's standpoint
  • The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Hoover, which is on book theft and itself is a steal
  • My favorite 6128 books article on the WSJ:

I diametrically stand opposite on most of the author's views, but his stance is interesting nonetheless. In a similar vein there's:
  •  The Solitary Vice: Against Reading by Brottmann. Stemming from her own experience and building on that of others', the author makes a case against reading and its immediate reach. Not as bad as it sounds, but she does make some valid points. Fortunately in my view, I do pass her test on page 19. In the section titled 'Of human bondage' she touches briefly on bibliomania.


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