Monday, January 21, 2019

… it should be obligatory that all living spaces come with built-in bookshelves.– Anakana Schofield, The Guardian (1/7/2019)

Anakana wrote these words in defense of books, authors, and art. She launched her defense after Marie Kondo’s irresponsible suggestion to eliminate any and all books in our homes that do not “spark joy.” Anakana provides a convincing argument for leaving books out of the de-cluttering equation – you can read it here.

We’d like to offer some additional support for Anakana’s argument…

A book does not stand alone in our lives. It is not like the random tchotchke you picked up at your last seminar nor does it fall into the same category as that apple peeler-corer thingee that you are convinced you would use regularly if you learned how to bake pies. The books on our shelves, nightstands, and coffee tables are part of a collection of books we’ve accumulated over days, weeks, months, and years.

Why do people collect things?

Some people collect things for the investment. They hope their collection will be worth something one day (think stamp or coin collections). Other people begin their collections innocently, by picking up a random object or buying a cute new toy (beanie babies or broken glass). But it doesn’t really matter WHY we collect; it’s enough to recognize that many of us do.

Book lovers are collectors, too, even if they do not spend thousands of dollars scouring used bookstores for the overlooked 1963 signed, first edition of Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle. Not all book collectors are in it for the money. Book lovers, like many other collectors, find joy and satisfaction in the collection process:
  • The infinite selection of possibilities
  • The near-infinite variety of topics/subjects
  • The discovery of something new (new author, new book by a known author, old book by a known author)
  • The hunt for something specific (the elusive first book published by the now-famous bestselling author)
  • The perfect title for a latent interest
Most book lovers’ collections contain a mix of well-loved titles, classic titles (some still waiting to be enjoyed), and new acquisitions. Well-read titles remain in the collection because we never tire of the stories within them. Classic titles remain because, well, they’re classics. And the new acquisitions provide the promise of new adventures. An individual title may not “spark joy” but the collection sure does.

Kondo also misses the interior design element of a book collection. Books add color to any and every room (unless you happen to be one of those horrible people who remove the dust jackets), they fit beautifully on your shelves, and they invite casual perusal as well as careful study.

But perhaps most importantly, the books on our shelves hold the memories of the time spent acquiring them. Where were you when you found your last great read?

So for all of you book lovers out there - ignore Marie Kondo’s advice – and visit us at the Used Book Store to add a few new titles to your own personal collection.