Insanity, Insanity


You get to the age when a book’s power to make you think becomes the first thing you notice about it. You can practically sense that power when you pick the book up. The books I already had in the house presumably once generated the same sort of charge when I contemplated buying them. Now there they were, still in their thousands despite the recent winnowing. I roamed slowly among them: old purchases begging to be read again even as the new purchases came in at the rate of one plastic shopping bag full every week. Insanity, insanity. Or, as Johnson might have said, vanity, vanity.

~ Clive James, Latest Readings (August, 2015)

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  1. Countless.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Having just returned home with same bag of books (old and new) I know how he feels. My bookshelves are already groaning.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Food for the soul, always to hand and ready to pass on at a moments notice.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Two terminal authors in one week. Hmm…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. C’est moi …

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh, the ones that force me to slow down, pay attention.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Nan Morrissette says:

    The initial winnowing of one’s book collection – accumulation – overtakement may not be difficult… those are the books in which one has little or no personal connection or investment. But the second, and the third, and continuing culls become as painful as watching old friends move away. The last wave out the back window of the car is inalterable. What will happen to this book that made a change in your psyche, that sounded in your being like the clear ringing tone of a finger on a wine glass rim? Who will take in and protect and honor this book that helped save you from some distant confusion or darkness? I face this exercise now, as, at an advancing age I wonder how to pass favored books on to my beautiful daughter and her children, knowing that, since they are not me, they may not connect to my passions at all. Just as I do not always connect to their passions. I cannot, in good conscience, pass them to dear friends… they are as old as I, and face similar attempts to downsize their possessions. I face the same exact situation with my sheet music collection. Fifty years of piano playing, music seldom discarded. Classical, church, choral, the American Songbook and show tunes, jazz, a very broad spectrum. The black dots and lines of the notes reposing within the pages, until the music is opened and the piano sounds out the opening chords, allowing them to burst back into life. Black dots that carry the dreams and thoughts, the heights and depths of a composer who may have been gone for centuries. What do I do with all this glorious music, music that has sustained me through so many seasons of my life? What collections are you trying to preserve while reducing to the best of the best? Do we keep all these things in a longing for immortality?

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  8. i visit my shelves/piles and revisit some of old loves from time to time. and they stir up the same emotions they once did.

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  9. I’ve tried. I’ve developed strategies. I pick it up, hold it, turn its pages, roam the bookstore with it firmly tucked under my arm, pausing now and then for another dip and ask myself, do I REALLY need yet one more, THIS one? Ah yes, in the three years since I adopted this strategy, it has worked – twice.
    My books accompany me on the bed, almost entirely cover my dining table/desk, fall off the shelves, are stacked beside the armchair, the couch and both on top and below the coffee table.. then there’s the thousand or so in my office. Tiny house? I contemplated that idea for some retirement sometime, maybe, never.. how could I part with my books? Ah, the insanity..

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  10. I’ve told you before that I just use the library now (after being a bookstore manager and book collector), but I can’t find all the wonderful books you quote, the ones that P-U-L-L me. But I noticed our library carries more titles as ebooks than are on their shelves. I put two on reserve yesterday. I never considered myself a Luddite before, but my resistance to ebooks reminds me of all the old farts I’ve known who refuse to adapt to the changing world. No more. I’m diving in face first.

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  11. I am so, a book buyer…the draw is there…having time to deliciously explore the wisdom, beautiful poetry, adventures, heart tugging, touching, inspiring and intriguing written words, is another…I also find coffee table books on photography and nature, interior design and floor plans and cooking books a fest for the eyes…the creative passion of another…the voyeuristic curiosity peaked in a biography or the life long interest of an academic to teach through his written work…to me a book, represents a gift of legacy…a time stamp of life…

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Never enough books for me! They are my soul food. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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