Sunday, 10 August 2014

I arranged the contents of a small library

yesterday. It was just one smallish set of bookshelves.
The last of my friend's belongings were moved into her room at the nursing home on Friday and she pleaded with me to arrange the books on the shelves. If, she told me, her sister did it they would argue.
No, she did not want them in any particular order but please put the heavy volumes on the bottom and the lighter books on top. Yes, for a physicist, that makes sense. I am not a physicist but it also makes sense to me.
So, we worked on it. Did she, I asked, really want a very large French Asian one...two German old book of Punch cartoons and three volumes of outdated statistics?
We put those back in the box. The rest fit on the shelves - just. If she acquires any more books then we may need to cull something else.
Her choice of reading matter is not mine. I doubt she has opened a book for children in all her adult life. She has only taught adults. She has never read a crime novel - unless Umberto Eco's "The name of the rose" counts. There is in fact almost no fiction on her shelves. There are biographies and autobiographies and books about Papua New Guinea and China. Her Latin texts - she had been learning Latin - and a Chinese dictionary. There is a score for the Messiah and another for Bach's St Matthew Passion. She is content with these things.
Perhaps it is a matter of "opposites attract". Our interests are quite different.
I came home to a house filled to overflowing with books. I will be culling some more in the coming week - but I know I will not cull as many as I should. I use the dictionaries, consult the language texts and the cookbooks. The Senior Cat will often reach for a gardening book. The fiction gets loaned to friends and the local children use my collection of children's literature as a second library.
There is something immensely comforting about books. Yes, they decorate the rooms and insulate the walls. They also bring in friends and neighbours. They are a sort of security blanket.
E-books simply don't do the same job. 

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