Friday, June 21, 2013

gypsy life: on books

You'd think being a semi-gypsy, I'd be all about convenient devices like Kindles and iPads and the like for reading books. But you'd be wrong. When I packed up my little Mill Studio to go and live the gypsy life, I packed up twelve boxes of books. Just books. I love books.

This may surprise some who know me, but I was late to learning how to read. But when I finally got the hang of stringing letters together to make words and words to sentences, I took off. I was reading full-length novels within a couple of years. I distinctly remember reading under the covers late at night when I should have been sleeping, and waking up early to read before school. I read multiple books at one time. Dog-earing the pages or memorizing the page number, especially for library books I didn't want to damage. Yes, library books.

We lived a short walk from the public library. A Carnegie Library with windows reaching way up to the ceiling at the end of each row of books. It's a building some people say is haunted. And it's no wonder, housing all those stories inside. Those books were bound to come to life and share their secrets as soon as the lights were out and the doors were locked.

I have seen evidence of books of my parents that my siblings and I added our own artwork to as children, but I have never been one to highlight and write in the margins of my books. Even in college. It didn't matter if it was a textbook or a first edition book of poetry. I don't write in my books. I don't like stickers on my books, and hate it when I have to remove stubborn scanner or price tag stickers from the cover. I also don't get rid of books.

I have every textbook, every book for every class I ever bought a book for in college. (I can't say every class, because well, some classes I didn't bother buying the book -- like anthropology, I borrowed a friend's book right before the tests, the rest was common sense.)

The result of my hording of books is the twelve boxes of books I had to pack up and haul out of my little place. I come by it honestly though. My parents have never had enough shelves to house all of their books either. Boxes and boxes of books. They are both scholars. Readers. It  must be a genetic thing. Because my one solitary bookshelf was always overflowing with books lined and stacked and jammed together by color.

There is just something about holding a book in your hands. Something real about it. I am an editor. I have learned to adapt. Learned to read books on a screen. It does streamline the whole book publishing process. I spend the majority of my day in front of a computer screen, so when I am not working, I choose the real deal. I choose to hear the crack of an unopened spine. To risk paper cuts with each page turn. Even though an electronic library would be easier to carry around with me, I choose the old fashioned system.

The sad part about this gypsy life is that I don't have easy access to my books. For some girls it's shoes or handbags. But me? It's all about the books. I dream of having a room full of floor-to-ceiling bookcases one day. One day when I give up the gypsy life. Until then, tell me, are you a book reader or an e-reader? What item or items do you have trouble parting with?


  1. Oh girl! I am BOTH! When my dear sweet husband bought me Kindle a few years ago I said what did you buy that for? I was so not grateful but now I do love it. However I still have to have hard copies of certain books too, like your mama's books and some of my other favorites. I love being able to have my favorite authors new books the very day they come out so the Kindle is great for that and because it is discounted but some books I just have to have the real thing! But shoes, don't get me started about shoes. Can NEVER have too many :) DSW is my FAVORITE store!

    1. This cracks me up. I do get the appeal in cost department of the ebooks, and the instant gratification of being able to read a book immediately. Especially for people who don't live near a good bookstore. I know a few other shoe people in the family. You aren't alone. As for me, I've got my red Hunters on today. I'm a sucker for red shoes myself.

  2. I don't like writing in books either. I just had a conversation about this at Bible Study, in particular writing in Bibles. I was definitely the odd one as most treasure the notes left in the margins of their Bibles. While I do have one Bible that I have underlined in, the one I typically use, I don't markup. And you know I too love books and have them overflowing in my house too!

    1. I do think those notes in the margins, especially of Bibles, can be very insightful. And pretty cool to look back on. I just write all my notes in notebooks :-)