quarta-feira, novembro 04, 2015

Who Cares About Selfies?: My Shelfies At Home


I've been hoarding books since I can remember. They’re everywhere. I've shelves that will no longer hold books. It won't be long to start having stacks in the bedroom, in the living room, in the spare bedroom, in the dining room. If my wife has a saying in the matter, I'll never have books in the bathroom or in a couple of closets...

My wife would never give me an ultimatum like “You need to organize, get a plan, or get rid of all these books!” She knows me pretty well...

I’ve started building my own library at the tender age of 10 years old. And it was built with intent. First I started with my first love. SF. It was planned to the tiniest detail, and according to a modus operandi.

I’ve never been much of an organizer myself, but when it comes to books I’ll always draw the line. Books inhabit a different plane of existence. I love the idea of being more intentional, more organized.  

My books have become treasured like vinyl records. Looking at Alfred Stieglitz's photographs on a computer is not as good as seeing his work on a page. It's about sequence and control. And remembering. Clippings, dates and extracts all add up.

I've been going to bookshops since I was 10 years old. Some of my first memories have a bookshop in them. I was born near the oldest bookshop in the world, Bertrand (here as well). They used to have a very large foreign section (several bookshelves), but no more. This foreign section was relegated to the back a long time ago...My first English books were bought there. Once in a while I still go there just to feel the scent of physical books, the paper, the ink, the glue...Book sniffing is still a major kick for me (now I only do it at home…lol). I just love to crack open a book and catch a whiff of the pages. When I go to the Bertrand Bookshop, the first thing I notice is the smell which is like no other bookshop I know, and I know a lot of them. I don't know. There's something about books stacked everywhere that gets to me every time. Whenever I go over there, I immediately feel a sense of nostalgia. It's good for the soul...Anyway, as the years have passed, I find that I'm biased in favour of yellowed paperbacks. They just smell wonderful! Friends tend to give me new hardcover books on birthdays, whereas I would rather have a humble paperback. They're easier to prop open, they're smaller and lighter. Also, they smell so much nicer...These are my memories of browsing books at Bertrand back in the day...

By the last count, I own around 5000 physical books (and counting). Why physical books? I read print books because I already own thousands and cannot resist browsing in a used bookstore (in the old Lisbon we can find them on every corner). If by fate I’d suddenly lose my personal library I’d feel diminished, and older, for it. In fact I am my books!

As a professional reader, I get lots of books for free (print and e-books versions). It goes with the “job”, but my personal physical library, i.e., my print books are treasured in a way that my electronic books aren’t. And that’s why I’d never consider giving up my print books. My inner dragon refuses point-blank, and he has fangs a mile long, claws, and fiery breath backing him up. My “classics” are there for the taking. That’s means me, whenever I feel like it. Those will stay on my shelves, “my precious” shelves, for as long as I have shelves to put them on. I’ve some signed copies that I treasure like no other physical asset. In this day and age, having lots of print books at home may not be a popular choice of home decoration enhancement, but that’s not the point. My physical book library is there because it makes me happy, and it’s all about aesthetics as well. Looking at my library gets me in Zen mode…

Every time I visit a friend's house for the first time, the first thing I check out is the household’s bookshelves... If they don't have anything worth reading, I'm left with just the medicine cabinet...In terms of the old dual problem print books vs. electronic ones, I'll never give away the paperback which I got as a present for some of my birthdays. I will not. Sometimes it's the emotional tie that binds me to the physical book that matters, and not what's on the pages. I surely love my used and abused paperbacks of Heinlein, Phil Dick, LeGuin, Shakespeare, Pessoa, etc.
Without further ado, some of my shelfies in no particular order:



















SF = Speculative Fiction.

NB: Thanks to ThemisAthena for having started this thread in June. I only got around to it now…

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