Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Killing Two Birds With One Stone

We have a lot of books. They fill several large bookcases in our "Library", which is technically the formal living room. We bring new books in but almost none go out. I'm OK with the idea of only owning as many books as will reasonably fit on the shelves. Limiting ourselves this way would force us to refine our collection over time.

My husband, historically, has disagreed with this approach. So over the last five years that we've had these bookshelves in this house, I've been trying to shoehorn the new books in and maintain our categories and alphabetization.

With clients I propose that they keep a book only if they loved it so much that they will re-read it (or reference it somewhat regularly) or recommend/loan it to a friend. This usually works.

Not so much with my husband. He wants to have everything we've ever read so that if and when we ever have a kid, there will be plenty of material to recommend, read and discuss. He held this position even before he read in the book Freakonomics that kids turn out better when books naturally accumulate in their home (because the parents actually enjoy/crave reading). This future-kid will have to have a life that lasts beyond the normal averages to read all these books in his/her lifetime. If Ray Kurzweil's (whose books are on the husband's xmas list, by the way) "singularity" happens in 2020 or whatever, maybe there will be time. And what if the kid doesn't want to read only sci-fi, horror, feminist fiction, Harry Potter, Roald Dahl and Dr. Seuss?

I understand the concept of having a great library for the kid, as long as it fits into the already-defined, generous storage space.

So, this week we happened to make a breakthrough. We had to come up with gifts for one hard-to-buy-for person--the rest of the gifts had already arrived from Amazon. While trying to A) stick to our xmas shopping budget, for once, B) avoid the mall, C) and avoid paying for any expedited shipping charges, he had the brilliant idea of giving this person books from our collection. This was a bit of a jump forward for me (the person who has bought and loaned out at least four copies of Laurie King's The Beekeepers Apprentice just so I could make sure everyone I know has read it), knowing that we don't intend to replace them in our collection immediately, but maybe down the road if we feel strongly enough about them. I like it. And it felt pretty good--even more personal than if we had just bought new copies.

Now I just have to go and find more room in our non-fiction section to file Freakonomics, once I've read it, and the probably-forthcoming Kurzweil stuff.

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