This book is fine. It’s a fine book. It’s a book about books, and this is a website about books, but it’s not profound, but it is charming. It was short, and it did not take much time to read and it made me feel nice about my books and my reading.
But I thought it would be more interesting to think on some of the topics in the the book and create a questionnaire for readers here to think over and answer as you wish. I will use the chapters/essays of this book as my guide. I will answer them and then paste the questions. Feel free to join in.
- If you are married or co-habiting, or if you think this might occur in the future: Would you and your partner intermingle your books together? Why or why not?
- How do you organize your books?
- How many books do you read at the same time?
- What is a book that you are very proud to have read?
- What is a book you wish you had read or regret not reading (maybe you skipped it for a class)?
- What is on your “Odd Shelf” (the books you read or like that seem counter to your general ethos)
- What is a book you claim or did once claim to have read but didn’t?
- How do you treat books? And, what kinds of treatments of books horrify you?
- My girlfriend and I will probably get married someday, but we live together now. We both have a decent number of books, but I think I have more books than she does. I will buy a book if it’s cheap, but I really like deals on books, so that’s where a lot of mine come from. Also, my books tends to get turned over a lot more. I teach and I keep books at school for a class library and I give books away or I buy one if it’s hard to come by and then put in a free library. Most of her books are old school books, and she adores them, or childhood books. Our books are not entirely intermingled, but we have a Russian lit shelf, and they are mixed there. We have a New York Review of Books shelf and they are mixed there. I have given up my copies of Jane Austen in order to mix with hers to make a complete set. Plus, we have bought each other several books and each of us is almost more likely than the other to start reading the gifted book first. To show how gross and liberal and snobby we are, I think our house contains something like 6 copies of Lolita.
- My books are organized in my mind more than on the shelf. My NYRB books are colored coded as close to ROY G BIV as possible. My Russian Lit books are on one shelf. My Library of America books go on another. My omnibus collections of stories and novels go on another. My sci fi and fantasy and old critical theory books are upstairs with the books I plan to read and donate as soon as I am done. And since we are out of shelves now, almost officially, my can go in the closet in the cat’s bathroom books are in the closet in the cat’s bathroom.
- I usually am reading a novel and an audiobook at the same time. Technically, I am reading a textbook for a class right now, but likely won’t review it, so I don’t think that counts. If I am reading essays or short stories, sometimes I am also reading those too. At school, I have a duty period in a hallway where no one ever comes, so I have my school duty book too. So the answer is 2-5 at all times.
- I like having read the books that get listed the “books that count as books” books. Meaning books that people use as reference points for important books. These change depending on the circles you’re in, but they are kind of snobbish shibboleths to conversations. So for example, War and Peace and Don Quixote, which are both great but also pretty “easy” to read, count for this. In some circles, it might be more like Underworld by Don Delillo, which I have not read. In other circles it’s Faulkner or Middlemarch. More than having read it, I do like having enjoyed Middlemarch so much.
- It’s never too late obviously, but the point is more like, which book is a haint for you….one that on your deathbed you will be visited by the ghost of this book and it was say “Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?” For me for the longest time, the books that were ghosts from college were The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford and Absalom, Absalom! by Faulkner, both of which I finally read last year. No clue why I couldn’t manage them at the time.
- I used to really love books of lists. I would read the old Oscars winners over and over again as a kid when my brother bought a copy that had The English Patient on the front of it. I would go back and basically try to memorize each little fact and then I would read the little narrative of the spectacle of that particular year.
- Gravity’s Rainbow. I was supposed to read it for a class once and I even had styled myself as a “Guy who reads Thomas Pynchon” and I even have a Thomas Pynchon tattoo…the same one everyone else has. But I have read a few of his novels, and I have even read half of Gravity’s Rainbow twice. But ever since that Simpsons’ joke where Lisa goes to college, it’s been a lie I have been living.
- I treat books mostly ok, but I will toss them. Also I have several books that have been stained with coffee, water from condensation on bars, beer, sweat (from being in my backpack on hikes) and food. So that’s an issue. But the thing the bothers me most is people who fold corners back on books as a bookmark. Especially when it’s a library book. Especially when it’s a new book. And especially! when it’s like on page 7.