Home Library

By | October 14, 2014

As I was reading for this week, I thought about how books were placed in this house I am living now. The novel I am currently reading is right next to my bed. There are books that are owned by my host sister. Most of her books are in a bookshelf. Some are used to stabilize her candle holder… My host mother has a huge collection of books. First of all, she loves reading. When we were living in Brooklyn, she used to read in her little library whenever she had time. Secondly, she is a retired English teacher. She has a couple of English grammar books and dictionaries. Also she works as an English-Italian interpreter now so she has Italian dictionaries. In her bookshelf, there is a trace that she tried to order books in alphabetical order but her collection grew and there is a limited space. For her, Priority #1 is how to use this limited space efficiently. The order of books comes next. Perec raises the problems that a library has. “A problem of space first of all, then a problem of order.” (Perec 150) In our household, we are facing the same problems. But also we are facing an aesthetic problem too. We had to throw away books such as French-English dictionary and Spanish grammar books in order to open up a space around the window to lighten up the living room. We had to choose what to throw away carefully. Is there any duplicate? Is there any possibility that she is going to use it? Does it have any association with her memory? Does it have any collectible value? We asked these questions because we needed to revalue what we had. As Rick Prelinger said in the interview, “Absence is necessary to truly understand presence.” (Contents) Our careful selection contributed to establishing a unique identity or personality to her bookshelf. However, I realized that we no longer buy novels in hardcopies. We have no books that were recently published in our bookshelf. It looks like the bookshelf’s time stopped somewhere in the early 2000’s. Libraries use digitization to make materials available to all but in our household, ebooks (specifically Kindles) are only available to the owner of the reading devices registered with the service. Even though she has the contents of the books she read, there is no physical display that shows she has read or owns them. I must find a way to display them so we can remember what she has read and has.

One thought on “Home Library

  1. shannon Post author

    Thanks! You raise interesting questions about various — and often competing — value system that inform the way we ascribe value to our media, and the way we organize them. You also point out the role that *the physical object* plays in the mnemonics of our collections.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *