As of yesterday afternoon, I’ve entered 665 titles in my LibraryThing collection, and there are still several hundred books that await my attention. The task is time-consuming and totally unnecessary, and therein lies its appeal. I don’t need to have my books posted online. But in examining each I’m restored to grace by the names of authors, illustrators, translators, editors, and publishers, and inspired by inscriptions and bits of handwriting, love notes, pressed leaves and flowers, satin markers and lace crosses, old photos, notes, and newspaper clippings — in short, life itself, committed to the safety and sanctity of what their former owners knew, or perhaps only sensed, would outlast them.
Scrolling through the catalogue, many of the books seem ordinary enough. But I assure you they are not. I assure you, nothing is when it’s carefully examined.
And while this catalogue is unnecessary, it does serve a purpose. Most of these books are here in this room where I work. Entering this space is like entering a used bookshop in which the owner also lives and conducts his day-to-day affairs. See and smell the books, know the man — know what he loves, and where he has been. Know, too, that the books have chosen him.
[My son and I are going to a book sale at the library today — hardcovers for a dollar.]