Wednesday, February 09, 2011

One Casualy of the Digital Age?

Browsing through a catalog I stumbled across something that sort of startled me: big ass bookcases. 

Now I grew up with these things all over my house.  For their three kids my parents shelled out the big bucks for Encyclopedia Britannica and the Great Books, sizable investments relative to their income at the time.  They also loaded up on all sorts of Time-Life series, the ones I liked best being the science-oriented books on Nature, Science, the Mind....remember those?

PLUS there were lots and lots of novels: hardbacks, paperbacks, mysteries, thrillers, you name it.  I grew up with essentially a private library, so large, crowded bookshelves were in nearly every room in the house, the Britannicas proudly displayed in the living room where guests might see them.

Today I carry the same information on my eight by twelve inch tablet computer.  

I've gone digital, a process I started years ago.  My few holdover "real" books that I can't let go of largely out of sentimental reasons sit in a semi-discarded desk in the garage, the few visitors who might find themselves in there running a curious eye over everything from philosophy to religion to the entire opus of Michael Connelly.  "Real" books might be found on my bedstand the few times I can't find something in digital format, but they go to the library or garage when they are completed, never being displayed or stored in the residence proper.

But when I go "home" (I own my own house, but where my parents live will always be home) I find I miss the musty smell of the stacks, the ability to peruse old acquaintances, discovering new additions my parents added since my last visit.

I may revert back to bookshelves eventually since much of the library is to be bequeathed to me once my parents pass on.  Once in my possession I plan to actually finish the Great Books I haven't read, my parent's investment finally paying off in my old age.  But by that time displaying books in the home might be the same as displaying antiques.

1 comment:

Jim said...

I was noticing the same thing when I went back to Houston a couple of weeks ago to visit my parents. They still had the Funk and Wagnall's encyclopedia (the cheaper alternative to Brittania), Family Circle Cookbook and a bunch of very dated other books. Though I've greatly tapered my book purchasing since working at Amazon, the old stuff usually finds its way to Half Price Books (which is misnamed, when you sell, it's really like "2% price"). The really, really old stuff - like my Charlie Brown Dictionary - still remains.