(2011) My Bookcase
A Few of My Favorite Things: Books
Lamp light on. Beverage in hand. A bag of chips torn open beside me. I lay on my bed, with a book open, fingering the corner of the page, ready to turn it. Deep in thought, perhaps mind traveling in a fantastical world. All of my surroundings seem distant. Such is a typical night at home during my free time.
Books are my favorite things.
The rise of e-books, iPads, and Nooks in the 21st century has reduced the number of actual books in households. Today, many prefer the cheaper, readily accessible, and convenient e-book. But I like to be old-fashioned. I buy books and build my personal library of books, accumulating more and more on my bookcases. The fragrance of printed pages. The weight of the book in my hands. The colorful spines indicating each unique book’s character. “A book’s character” is simply what distinguishes one book from another, whether by appearance or history. Books are real; e-books are trapped in cyberspace. Each book has a history as different owners possess it. Some buy books from the bookstore or the library, while others simply borrow from friends or the public library. Either way, each individual who touches and reads that book becomes part of the book’s history. Some like to leave annotations or distinguishing marks in books. Some wear out the binding. Pages wrinkled, corners curled. But every action contributes to the book’s character. Usually the more worn out the book, the more times the book has been read. The white lines on paperbacks’ spines indicate the devotion of readers. Especially in public libraries, readers readily “storm” books. Some pages folded, some with stains, and others with notes left behind. Before modern check-out methods revolutionized libraries, the little white note cards on the inside cover indicated the names of borrowers. That’s an example of the passing of books from one hand to another, from one mind to another.
Just perusing the covers of my books soothes me. What the mind sees is what the mind perceives. It’s like therapy. The book art or the mere title of works reminds me of its contents. The journey the protagonist underwent. The rapid incline to the climax. The satisfying resolution. For me, books are stepping stones. The stepping stones form a line that starts from the first book I read to the last. Jumping on each stepping stone, I go on an adventure in the fictional world. These stepping stones represent my reading experiences and history. Of course, some of these stepping stones weigh more than others. The books that have touched me most such as the Harry Potter series and The Count of Monte Cristo represent launch pads and express lanes that catapult me to the next stepping stone. But what patterns do these stepping stones form? I would say a web, others may say a circle or a straight line. The pattern is unique for every reader. Mine is a web, interconnected, weaving together. In my journey of reading, I step forward, backward, sideways, up, down. One book is connected to a few others and so on. Knowledge gained from one book may carry over to reading another book. Rereading allows me to gain new insight and revisit those books.
If you have seen Beauty and the Beast, you must have noticed the enormous library inside the beast’s castle. Books everywhere. From the floor to the ceiling. Ladders required to reach them. A magnificent scene. Inspired by the beast’s collection, I will continue to increase my personal library, for books are sacred. Books reveal our imaginations, histories, and aspirations.
~ Tianjia Liu, 2012 ~