January 20, 2012

A house of books

Posted in Literature tagged , , at 12:12 pm by faraway67

Or Why one book at a time is not enough for me…

That's what my nightstand usually looks like.

Imagine yourself living in a gorgeous house. Many rooms can be found there, and each of them is different. A kitchen, bedrooms, bathrooms, a living room, a dining room, several salons, all in different colours and styles. Tell me – which of you would use only one room a day, looking around until you have seen each and every detail in the room? Nobody would, certainly. Of course you would start your day getting up in your bedroom, then take a refreshing shower in the bathroom. You would go down to the kitchen for breakfast. Presumably if you had the time you would perhaps spend an hour in one of the salons, maybe the red one, snuggled up into that comfortable big leather armchair, reading a book, before going on to your den to write some letters. Around noon there would be a quick lunch – there is that nice little green salon on the first floor, perfectly fitting for this purpose. In the afternoon, you could sit down in the library, and maybe there would be a bit of time to spend in the music salon playing the piano before meeting up with a dear friend for dinner, which would of course be taken in the festive atmosphere of the dining room. Afterwards you would go over to the big living room to share some quality time talking there. And when he/she had finally gone, it would probably be time to go to bed in your bedroom again. Now, how does that sound to you?

I do not know exactly how many books I own. Must be about 10.000 volumes. I am a bookaholic, I confess. (Friends call me even “addicted to books”, and I am afraid they might be right. It has never been a good idea to let me go into a bookstore – I do not think I have ever come out without buying anything;-)

For me, my library is like the most beautiful house and my books are the rooms in it. There are many, many rooms to explore and I feel comfortable in all of them. But I do not feel comfortable spending my whole time reading only one at a time. I want to open all the doors. I want to inhale all the smells. See all the colours. Hear all the voices. So my nightstand, the desk in my den, even the sofa in the living room are always covered with books. And I can tell you –my family and friends often tell me off because of that! But then, some time ago, I listened to a brilliant interview on NPR dealing with exactly that question, and I thought – YES! Finally somebody seemed to understand me! Julia Keller, Chicago Tribune cultural critic, talked about her approach to books, and how she reads several books at one time. I agree with her on literally everything. It is not a question of being easily bored as you could assume, neither of not being able to concentrate on a single one. It is a question of wanting more.  One book is just not enough. I want to keep my thoughts open and my horizons wide. Certainly none of you is occupied with only one issue, one thought, for days and days? So, why should I force my brain to do exactly that the moment I take up a book?

A typical reading scenario.

But what is a house, even the most beautiful one, if you are alone in it?  Of course you can admire the architecture and enjoy the interior. Still the rooms will not come alive until you share them with others. For me it is the same with books. I have experienced that all the more since I have started reading a lot of English books and found a friend to share with. Certainly I enjoy reading on my own, savouring the beauty of words, structure and thoughts. But it is so much more fun to talk and think, to be questioned and re-think, to digest your thoughts into words – you get so  much more challenged and everything gets brighter and deeper.

Ever since I started this blog, I wanted to share my thoughts about literature with you. 2012 seems the year to begin with. So stay tuned and get to know my books – the ones I love, the ones that touched me, the ones that challenged me.

But beware: I will not write classical reviews. You can find them by the dozen on amazon.com or goodreads.com. What I really want to share with you are my thoughts and feelings about what I have read. The things that impressed me, irritated me, upset me. And I would love you to share with me as well!

“To read is to fly: it is to soar to a point of vantage which gives a view over wide terrains of history, human variety, ideas, shared experience and the fruits of many inquiries.”
A.C. Grayling


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