Monday, June 13, 2005

Follow-up to the Book Meme 

1) I realized as I thought about the 5 'books that mean a lot to me' that I couldn't think of anything I'd read in the past decade.. or two.. that I could include in that very exclusive group. (Actually the Robert Wright book is only about 10 years old. But I was trying to think of SF novels, or collections.) Is this because my tastes and values were formed early, and nothing has had an impact on me because I'm less suggestible to new influences? (Another way of saying the golden age is 12.) Or is it because my reading has become more routine (such as the drudgery of reading for review) and less adventurous? This isn't to say I haven't read many books over the past decade or two that I've enjoyed and admired. I suppose it's just that the more one has experienced in life, the less likely any particular new experience will make an impact that means more than all the others experienced so far...

In any case, this book meme exercise did boost my resolve to seek out some of those neglected 'classics' that so far I've never gotten around to reading. Surely there *are* life-changing books out there I've yet to read, if only I make time for them.

2) I'm sure I buy more books that I will ever have time to read, but I never buy a book that I don't think I would enjoy sitting down to read, if I could find the time.

3) I've noticed in some of the answers to these meme that 'culling' or pruning one's collection is a frequent comment. I've done this a couple times -- 15 or 20 years ago now, a couple hundred books at a time -- and ended up regretting it. In later years I find myself thinking of books I want to look at and realizing that I disposed of them in some misguided housekeeping move years before. Sometimes it's just for the nostalgaic sense of holding a book that, in some long ago time and place, excited my imagination. Since resolving never to prune my collection ever again, I've gone so far as re-purchasing books I'd once pruned when I happen to see copies at convention books dealers. Fortunately my present household situation is that I have enough room to have everything unpacked and on shelves. Every one of my 8650 books is out on a more-or-less well-ordered shelf, where I can find it in short order... And I realize how lucky I am to be in this situation.
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Mark R. Kelly

The opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of Mark R. Kelly, and do not reflect the editorial position of Locus Magazine.
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