What Is It About Books?

      Hi everyone.  I’m in rural southwestern Maine this week, where access is intermittant, so forgive me if I don’t respond.  But I’ve been thinking about books.  No surprise there.   Who doesn’t?  But this time it’s because I’ve been cleaning out my office and I have a pile of books five deep and thigh high sitting on my hearth and those were just the ones stacked on my floor.  I’m nowhere near ready to empty the four bookshelves in the room.  And that doesn’t count the side table full of books in the living room that I intend to read — sometime. Or the back bedroom — the alleged guest room — that is jammed floor to ceiling with — you guessed it — books.

          Who needs a bed?  We never have guests anyway.

          So what it is about books?   I know I absolutely need all those research books, and the essential mountainous to-be-read pile, and there are the books I know I’ll get to — soon;  nor can I give up my beloved keepers because I’m going to read them again — when I have time; and there are my childhood favorites I love to reread (Nancy Drew anyone?); and the books my English teacher husband read in college and can’t bear to give up.

          All the freebies at conferences that cost more to send home than they would to buy them?  I don’t care.  I have to have them.  A friend of mine said we’re all lemmings – we’d dive off a cliff for a box of books.

          What is it about books?

          And you remember my penchant for buying obscure books? We found a used bookstore in that lovely seacoast town in Maine — you didn’t think I walked out with nothing, did you? (It was Kathleen Norris, perfectly understandable).

          And at the flea market at the fairgrounds — what did I buy? 

          Books.

          Who could resist “The Rajah’s Fortress?” Wouldn’t you snap that right up?  Honestly, who wouldn’t?

          I’m even the Recording Secretary my town’s Friends of the Library because we get first dibs at the book sales.

          It’s not that I don’t get rid of books either.  I’ve sold books, donated books to the Friends’ Library sale (three boxes full just the other day), given books to friends, left books outside and invited people to take them — yet somehow the piles in the house never grow smaller.

          I’m the one who used to tote a suitcase full of books on vacation in case I ran out of things to read and the supermarket/bookstore/pharmacy was closed and I couldn’t  buy a new book because I’d finished all the others. 

          So you’d think e-readers would be my salvation and my heaven.  Hundreds — no, thousands — of books in the palm of my hand at the instant!  Whenever I might want.  Anytime anywhere,  No more suitcase.  No more I’ll-die-if-I-don’t-have-something-to-read frenzy.  

Maybe it’s generational.

However, full disclosure, I did get my husband an e-reader for Christmas and I’m really enjoying watching HIM use it.  (He downloaded War & Peace, which I think takes care of his leisure reading for the next ten years — and the need to download more.) 

          And I AM making an effort too.  In order to cut down the paper chaos and declutter my life,  I decided that if I can check the book I need out of the library, I don’t have to have it in the house. 

          Sane, right?  Sensible.  Grown-up.   

          And if I need that piece of research at ten at night — or two in the morning? … or if I MUST read that book NOW … well, that’s why search engines were invented.  That’s the magic of being able to download any book I want any time I want.  That’s why I should fully love and embrace my husband’s e-reader as fully as I love and embrace him.

          My own last four books are in eBook for heaven’s sake.  You’d think I’d want to buy out the store.

          I  actually think the tipping point might have come today.  As I was standing in line at the post office (did you ever notice how much happens in my local post office?), I watched as a woman ahead of me slipped her e-reader from her purse and began unobtrusively reading, and I felt a sudden pang of jealousy.  I wanted a book to read.  Right then, right there.  And I wanted the unlimited choice, right then, right there.  All of it, magically, in the palm of my hand. 

          And there it was, right before my eyes. 

          But would you believe?  I’m still not quite yet sold …

How about you?  Are you and your Kindle inseparable, or do you love your books like I do?  Are your books spilling on the floor and piled in the closet, or are they neatly contained on a device … I’m still ambivalent …

Thea Devine is the best-selling author of twenty-five steamy historical and contemporary romances.  She is working on the sequel to the Darkest Heart, Beyond the Night, to be released April 2013 from Pocket Star.

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5 thoughts on “What Is It About Books?”

  1. In spite of my initial resistance, I now love my Kindle, Thea! I thought for sure I’d be one of those die hard I’ll-never-give-up-my-paper-book kind of gals, but lo and behold, my husband, the techspert bought me a Kindle for my birthday last year. It is just too convenient not to keep it on hand. I can read multiple books at any time, I can download any book at any time, and I can get free and cheap books at any time. Sooo much fun…right at my fingertips.

    One of the downsides is that I’ve become so spoiled that it galls me to pay $10 for an e-book even though I would have once spent $30 on the latest Outlander in hardcover. I’ll still buy at that price in support of friends or books from authors I love, but I will likely never spend $30 on a book again. The upside is that I don’t have to carry those huge bricks around. I swear I nearly grew a hump on my back carryng those suckers around with me. I do still enjoy picking up a paperback and sniffing the pages as I sink my teeth into an actual book and I’d never want to see them disappear completely. Nancy Drew, indeed! A keeper–yes!

  2. I love my Kindle just so that I don’t have to bring a suitcase of books on vacation. And if I finish a book while waiting for the kids to wrap up their swimming lesson, I can just download a new one immediately. I still have an absurd number of books, but I’ve culled down to the absolute must haves. Just four bookshelves worth. And my two to-be-read shelves…

  3. Thea, you certainly have touched a soft spot in my heart. Bottom line, I have a well-read library of over one thousand books on art, architecture, interior design, and now hundreds of romance novels, most of which my hubby reads. I have all the books on bookshelves. I reference them fairly often btw my work, writing and research. I want them all handy. That thirst is undeniably a passion for knowledge, I guess for anything relative to what I do, what I love, and what I live. Put me in Barnes and Noble and I become comatose. I love my books, and now I love my Kindle. Mine was a hand-me-down from my sweet daughter who got herself a “Fire.” Is that what it’s called? I also have the e-library on my MacBook Air. That way I can access my e-books anytime, anywhere. This condition has got to be my mother’s fault. She said I could be anything I wanted, anywhere, anytime. All that’s fine, but I need to know everything that is available to make that decision. So far, I am in my 9th lifetime. Cats have nine lives, then so can we. Right? Thanks Thea. I look forward to your posts, I enjoy hearing from you.

  4. I used to have boxes and boxes of books that I schlepped around everytime I moved. My last move 17 years ago into a fairly small house saw me living about 200 feet from our very good public library. I started getting rid of the books, figuring anything I wanted to reread I could get from the library and/or through interlibrary loan. Since I’ve gotten involved with so many professional and aspiring writers, I’ve started to accumulate them again. However, once I read something now, I either pass it along to a friend or drop it off on the free shelf at the library. I keep only my signed copies. As for an ereader, I have an older model Nook that I love and use constantly, but lately I’ve been thinking about getting a Kindle because the selection of books is so much broader once you figure in the indie writers, many of whom only pub on Amazon. Not that I would have time to read that much broader selection of books! I do still enjoy a physical book and don’t think that will ever go away for me, but like PJ I haven’t bought a hard cover book in years. I do buy paperbacks if I know and/or love the author.

  5. Hi everyone — back from our week away — and what did I buy? BOOKS. Two by Augusta Evans Wilson (more about her in another post), a 1904 copy of Lady Audley’s Secret, and Lady Betty Across the Water (I know all of you would have snapped that one up). I also read three books (Margaret Way, Mary Jane Clark, and Helen Myers), scavenged flea market shops, and went without any electronics for FIVE whole days (on a challenge from my husband). It was — refreshing.

    Thanks for your posts.

    Thea

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