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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I Like Books

Books. I like books. Okay, that phrase might be a tad understated. I love books. I have always loved books. I love everything about books. The codex format of words, sentences, and paragraphs neatly bound in between covers, appeals to me greatly. Books are portable knowledge, alternative entertainment, and even can be seen as accessories to decorate a room. I even like the smell of books.

I like all forms of the written word from comic books of my youth, to the graphic novels I now enjoy as an (ahem) adult. I quite enjoy my share of poetry, novels and novellas, and the occasional how-to books. I even subscribe to magazines devoted to books: Quill and Quire: Canada's Magazine of Book News and Reviews, and Books in Canada: The Canadian Review of Books. This is just to name two. There are many others. I frequently buy Canadian Notes & Queries, and the Literary Review of Canada, too.

The internet also offers a wealth of free access to websites such as literary weblogs like, Maud Newton's Blog, The Grumpy Old Bookman, Literary Saloon literary weblog on I frequently read the The New York Times Book Review, Guardian Unlimited Books,'s Books Etc.. There are many, many more.

Then there are the books about books. I have books about libraries, and how to build a personal library collection. I own several books on the values of books. I particularly enjoy reading about other people's pleasures of collecting books. The field of interest is wide as it is deep. There is a life time of reading and the discovery of a book is half the fun as the ownership.

This weblog that is hosted on my vanity website is loosely devoted to activities about current local literary readings, among my other interests. If an event sounds interesting and I have the time, I usually check it out. It is only recently that I started writing about these events and more recently photographing the events.

Last year I finally constructed a home library devoted to my collection. I also have some photos of favourite authors on its walls. On the shelves are many kinds of books and there are even free books I found on the streets. I have been given books as gifts. There are books purchased in bricks-and-mortar stores in most of the cities in Canada and afar; online bookstores; direct from the publisher and or author; at antiquarian book fairs; and on eBay; at garage sales; thrift stores; church basements; and even rescued books tossed out with the garbage. I have a perfectly good Teach-Yourself-Spanish book. I don't speak a word of Spanish, but you never know, one day, it might come in handy. Along the same vein, I have a vintage Enlish-Latin dictionary that was owned by my great-great-grand uncle. Again, you never know.

It would be fair to say that I take good care of my books. Like the Hippocratic Oath a medical doctor swears to uphold, I similarly swore to [myself] to "never do harm to... any books. With each new acquisition I carefully remove the DJ (dust jacket) and promptly wrap it in a protective mylar sleave lest it get dirty with fingerprints, chipped, ripped or soiled by an errant coffee mug. I belive that price clipping the inside corner of the DJ is tantamount to sacrilege. Yet I continue to see imported (American) books on shelves with the price already cut off from the corner of the flap. It is done, ostensibly, as to not confuse customers. You see, its crime is that the DJ only had one price labeled in American dollars. Snipped before it gets to store shelves. *Gasp!*

Incidentally, I have received comments at literary events where the author was stunned with the appearance of this mylar cover. If the book is worth writing and publishing, it's generally worth protecting. I believe it a sign of respect to both the book and its author. If only people would be in the frame of mind that were are only temporary holders of books then they may take care not to write over-sentimentalized birthday or Christmas greetings to their Aunt Betty or most favourite niece.

Some people have been blessed with beauty or the ability to not gain weight. I figure I have been blessed with good book-buying genes. I buy books for both reading pleasure and profit. I have whole collections of a few favourite authors. In some respects I am a completist. In other words, I like to have (almost and within reason) everything an author has written: articles written by the author, first editions, first printings, hard covers with pristine dustjackets preferable, soft cover releases if any, signed copies, inscribed copies, stories published in magazines, biographies of the author, memoirs by the author, and recollections of a person who even lived near the author.

I am not only limited to enjoying the physical aspects of the book, however. Books are written by people. To enjoy a book is also to enjoy the author. Hopefully this is the case. And from the authors I have met so far, I have not been severely disappointed.

I am a fan of authors and writers in general. Why? What a life is the life of a writer! It is so glamorously intellectual. What with all the speaking engagements, evening salons with their peers; other younger writers looking up to them for sage advice. Romantic view, eh? The other extreme and probably more realistic: it can be insanely lonely and unappreciative work given that their work actually be published in the first place. Well, it certainly beats lifting heavy objects for a living.


Blogger Amanda Earl said... you'd probably be horrified to see all my dog-eared poetry books, with crumbs and sunflower seed shells in the cracks, and evidence of my oily grimy little palms, which have fondled and stroked the creases and tickled the lengths of the spines.
Amanda (also a book lover)

Wednesday, August 31, 2005 10:34:00 PM  
Blogger John MacDonald said...

Trust me, I have my fair share of books in this shape and worse. Condition, in book collecting, is everything. I do not keep wet books - mould is bad, very bad.

The strangest thing I have found in one of my books was tiny, tiny little red and black feathers. Poof! I flipped through the pages and about 20 or so feathers literally flew about my face. Odd...

Thursday, September 01, 2005 7:57:00 AM  
Blogger Amanda Earl said...

Festive bibliophilic elvin birds..damn them...

Thursday, September 01, 2005 8:41:00 AM  

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