A book hoarder wonders whether there is any point to collecting books. #3dchicks @ 3chicksandsomebooks
A Point of View: Is there still any point in collecting books?
A lifetime of collecting books has left the writer Howard Jacobson with back injuries, a lack of living space and a sense of sheer pointlessness. But he’d do it all over again.
I can’t remember how old I was when I began collecting second-hand books. I’d like to say eight or nine, but that’s because I want to be thought of as bookishly precocious. In fact, going by the purchase dates I bothered to write in the oldest volumes in my collection I can find, I must have been about 12. I’ll settle for that. Twelve’s good. There are worse things to do when you’re 12.
My father wasn’t so sure. He objected to my bringing books home before I’d read the previous lot. He didn’t understand that books could just sit on shelves, unopened, and still satisfy whatever need drove the collector to collect them. Though he was no reader himself, an unopened book drove him to madness. “It would be like me ordering a meal and not eating it,” he said. An eventuality that was, indeed, inconceivable. “I’ll open them all one day, when I have to,” I told him. But by his reasoning they would, by that time, have gone cold. And the truth is there remain hundreds I haven’t opened yet. Cold on my shelves, they stare out at me, with chill reproach. But who’s to say the hour won’t yet come when they are needed?