This morning when I checked the weather forecast it called for another 18-24 inches on top of the 12 plus we got on Friday. For me it calls for snuggling up with the New York Times and New York Post (let no one think I am one of those liberals) and reading the book review and sports sections. In the NYT BOOK REVIEW I came across a wonderful article by James Atlas entitled, “Headed for the Graveyard of Books.” In it I found one of the best answers to a question I have thought about for decades. Three years ago my wife Ronni and I moved from the Hanover, NH area down to the seacoast. I faced a major crisis, how do I move a personal library of over 8000 books. After careful consideration and much prodding by the love of my life I gave 2000 away. Today I am left with the remaining items, a blend of historical monographs, historical fiction, biography, literature, mysteries, and sports. When people visit or hear about my collection the question always comes up, “have you read them all?” Of course the answer is no, as there are only 24 hours in a day, and you must sleep for a significant block of that time. The next question that arises is “why not go the library and/or why do you have so many?”
In Atlas’ article he quotes Anatole France, who is “asked if he has read all of the books in his library, [he] is said to have replied: “not one-tenth of them. I don’t suppose you use your Sevres china every day?”* This is the answer I have been searching for. Friends will show off their Kindles or Nooks and say why not them? Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately I cannot adjust to the backlighting on these consumer items, and as a wanna be Luddite I will not use them. I realize that my addiction to books whether it is their texture, the snap of their spines, or the type of print presented it is something I cannot or will not try and cure myself of. I realize that when I travel or go to a doctor’s office or any number of places I carry extra pounds, but I do not question the wisdom of carrying a laptop, I pad, smart phone, large purses, attaché cases, and backpacks, so why should people question me? Choosing a book from your own “stacks” or sharing them with friends, neighbors, and students is a behavior that never gets old. So the next time someone asks the question, “have you read them all?” I will smile inwardly and contemplate my next journey that presents itself on the written page, because people continue to write wonderful books!