At the sign post up ahead, Next Stop, the Twilight Zone… or the imagination zone? I admit to being an unrepentant bibliophile. No, don’t call the cops, I promise I can control my addiction. Most of the time. Ok, I can when I stay out of book stores. Usually.
However, it is one of the stranger points of contention in my marriage. It isn’t that I love to read and she doesn’t. The Wife and I both love to read. And The Mouse is beginning to show a distinct interest in books as well (sitting at the sink the other night she spelt out C.O.L.D. and H.O.T on her own… lord help us, but that’s a different article). So, if we are both (soon to be three) avid readers, how can there be anything but bliss?
Material? Genre clash I hear you suggest (no, I didn’t actually hear you say that. That is a rhetorical device to draw in the reader by giving them a vested [if false] interest by ‘making them’ ask questions… but I digress…[admit it, you missed the digressions])Well, it isn’t in choice of material. While she prefers non-fiction to my fiction and I much prefer sci-fi and urban fantasy to her financial management and personal management, the isn’t the type of material that causes the occasional conflict. I am very appreciative that she actually enjoys the financial tomes she devours with gusto. The fact my income to debt ratio hasn’t be this good since… well ever.
So, the read-iness isn’t the problem and the type of reading material isn’t, then whatever could it be? Surprisingly, it is the physical items, the books themselves. Now, surprise, it isn’t print versus e-books. We both prefer the actually ink-pressboard-and-paper variety. I will confess that I recently purchased my first e-books (yes, plural. Forgive me Father, for I have sinned) and, while I certainly can see the benefit in some instances [2 of the works I purchased which will get HEAVY reference in a couple of other planned articles are The Element and Out of Our Minds both by Sir Ken Robinson highly, enthusiastically recommended!!!] particularly in research writing and education, there is something about the tactile sense of reading, the feel and smell of the pages, raspy sound of the paper as each page is consumed, that cannot EVER be replaced via e-books (here is a TED video that is awesome from Chip Kidd on designing books).
No, the item under dispute (at times) is the ownership of books versus borrowing them from your local lending institution or library. I am of the own a book variety. If left to my own devices (which, fortunately I am not) I would be a devout disciple of Desiderius Erasumas who said, “When I get a little money, I buy books. And if there is any left over, I buy food.” There is (in my experience) an almost obscene physical joy in acquiring a new (dare I say 1st edition?) novel. And, unless it is that rare volume that I have no intention of ever reading again, it goes on the shelf. It may be a year or more before I actually read it again, but there is a comfort and joy in knowing that, at any time, whenever I wish, I can remove the tome from its resting place and delight in it once again.
The Wife likes libraries. She likes to go, select her material, check it out, read it, then return it. She dislikes my ‘collection’ of books. I’m not sure why. Perhaps because they take up space? I really don’t know what else would go on those shelves in those spaces. The saving grace on a few of them are that they are frequent reads of mine (she actually was loving enough to replace my worn* copy of George R. R. Martin’s Game Of Thrones as a present because my reading copy (paperback) had been rather hard used) or they are worth more now than when purchased (I love 1st editions). But my collection of deLints or, the Kim Harrison series, the Jim Butcher’s, and other assorted single volumes or trilogies, tetralogies, or on-going series, profound, profane, amusing and serious, she does not understand. She likes to point out that the ink isn’t used up for the multiple readers. I like to point out that I can’t go to the library for my fix at 2AM n my underwear. And that they threw me out the last time I showed up in my skivvies. She isn’t amused by my attempt at humor (I’m pretty sure the statute of limitations has run out on that particular
We have reached, however, a detente in the matter. The Wife takes The Mouse to the library and is indoctrinating her in the finer points of the book lending institution. I ‘cull’ my personally library from time to time. She shakes her head at my joy of the ownership of tomes of forgotten lore. I grin at her frustration of having to wait for a requested book to come in. Being married is an art. You don’t have to agree. Sometimes you have to just make allowances for quirks in personalities. And realize that there are so many more important things in life. Like raising a daughter who loves reading and books, who asks questions while we read together about why and how and what. And who likes to add herself to the story-experience by telling us stories about her world and the one time a long time ago, yesterday, that her brother, Christopher Robin and she went to visit their friends, Tigger and Poo. But that’s another story… and The Mouse promised to finish telling it to me later.
*The Wife: “First of all the ‘worn’ copy looked like this: front cover missing, the binding had been replaced by strips of duct tape. (Guys really do use duct tape to fix everything).”
**The Wife: “Mouse is already asking why we have to give the books back to the library, because she wants to keep them for her very own….. genetics? I suppose.”