I collect the books I like. Not in a serious way, not in a series way, but I still collect them. All well and good, you say, but I'm starting to ask why? What for? I have some 400 books in my room, all read, alphabetical by author, chronological within author. Fiction Non-Fiction Biography Entertainment. Yeah. Why?
Well... I like doing it. Maybe that's it. I like collecting things. I especially like putting things into alphabetical order by author, and chronological within author. But if it's as unpragmatic as that, it's a very expensive past time.
Maybe it's because I love to lend books. At least, I've always assumed I do, but it's never really come up. In recent months, I have been asked for a good book to read, and have leant out half a dozen excellent novels. What really struck me about that process, pleasant though it was, was how bloody difficult it can be. Reading -- even to a book-blogger -- is a very private thing. How do I know what this guy will like? Or how this girl will react to that author?
Maybe a better tactic is to lend them to myself. Keeping the books I love, clearly, offers the possibility of re-reads. I now have a personal library selected by the only person who's taste I really trust; it sounds great, but in reality I never do it. I've re-read Watership Down about 5 times; all of Pratchett at least twice; and Harry Potter. All of which re-reading took place years ago.
I have favourite books -- The Great Gatsby, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Wittgenstein's Mistress, Bluebeard -- that I've only read once. It's a travesty.
I think -- I have to think -- the point of my shelves and shelves of books is to be re-read, by me, someday. Lending is good, collecting is fun, and they probably do keep my room fairly warm; but they exist for my own future, repeated pleasure.
The problem with that is, where do you find the time? There's also thousands of unread books out there, vying for my reading hours. It's a delicate equation that I have yet to balance. Do you re-read? How often? Or do you give your books away once you get to The End?