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I'm a writer and library worker who wears many hats. I believe a good book and a good piece of chocolate are the keys to a happy life.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Why Books Matter To Me

A few days ago my husband looked over at me as we were preparing for bed and declared, “I’ve figured out what the difference is between you and me.”

I’m thinking. Hmmm, took you long enough. But I politely inquired what he was talking about anyway. Apparently, he’d just figured out what the main difference is in the way he and I feel about books.

We both love to read, so that wasn’t it. But, we have very different reading styles. I’ll tell you about his conclusions in a minute. First, let me set the stage. I was laying there with a book open in front of me, a couple of books on my chest, another on the floor where I’d discarded it when finished. There was an additional stack of books on the nightstand peeking out from under the cold medicine I’d had to pull out the night before for a sick child, my water bottle, the cup of tea I was sipping on, a bag of cough drops, my sweats and fuzzy socks I pull on in the morning to take my teenager to seminary, and a bunch of other miscellaneous things. He, on the other hand, had just gone over to the bookshelf in our room, taken down one hard back, carefully removed the dust cover and set it aside before joining me in bed to read.

Think you’ve got it figured out yet? If you’re thinking I’m a perpetual slob and he’s Mr. anal retentive you’d be right, but that’s not it.

Here’s another hint. He re-reads. Though my husband reads as much as he can, the number of new titles he’s read since we married many years ago is probably less than a dozen. Maybe two. Definitely not much more than that. Most of those have probably been at my insistence. He has his favorite authors and books by those authors. That’s it.

The number of books currently on my list to read the first time around is 648 (I constantly update an excel file on my computer). My library record shows I currently have 43 items checked out. (Okay, about half of that is material for my children as well- still.)

Okay, we’ve added another piece to the puzzle: I’m a flake with ADHD tendencies, he’s a collector. He keeps books that are near and dear to him. We’d go bankrupt if I purchased every book that caught my fancy.

Are you ready for his answer yet? My husband declares our basic difference lies in what we value. We both value reading, but:
He values the actual book.
I value the experience I have inside its pages more than the actual book.

This is evidenced in the way we read the scriptures as well. My husband’s scriptures are in almost pristine condition, the only markings are the scripture masteries from his high school days, carefully color coded, etc. I’ve gone through several sets to his one. My seminary scriptures are actually in several pieces, some of those pieces are even missing (gasp!). I have colorings and markings everywhere. He once asked me why I colored a particular verse. I had no idea. I guess at some point in time it was exactly what I needed. . .

I read while I eat. I toss books in my purse. I pile them in precarious stacks around my house. My husband lovingly catalogs his books. There are several titles that he has a “shelf” copy and a “reading” copy of so he doesn’t mess up the good one. He’s careful with his books. I lone them out precariously. We are very different when it comes to books, but we hope the message we send to our children is the same: Books matter.

Yes, there are actual books that I value. These sit on a separate shelf in my living room. Why do I value them? Because they are my friends—very literally. They’re written in by my friends. My most prized collection of books have signatures and notes from the people that have written them. I don’t stand in line to get Mr. or Mrs. New York Times Best Seller’s signature in my books-- who cares. I stand in line to get my friend’s signatures because I love what they have accomplished and I love them.

So, there you have it. More than you ever wanted to know about my marriage and some tidbits about the different ways people express their appreciation for things they value. What is it about books that you value? How is this value expressed? If you were to ask a loved one if you like to read, why, or how you read what would they observe about you and the written word?

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1 comment:

Tristi Pinkston said...

I'm like you - I've got piles everywhere. I love the experiences I have inside them. The dollar amount doesn't come into play, as I get a lot of my books on sale or at the library, but the experiences are priceless.