Sunday, November 4, 2012

Books and Piles

Last night my brother popped into his son's room at my parent's house--they're just down the street and so their guest room becomes my nephew's default room unless someone kicks him out while visiting my parents, as I was that night--and grabbed a thin book out of the stack at the foot of the bed.

A bookshelf had been moved out of the room and piles of books lined the hallway. Mom had made a stab at separating the books that had belonged to each of us as kids and I'd added the book my brother was now holding to my stack. Of course, it had been in the house since I'd been in elementary school (quick quiz--can you name every teacher from kindergarten through fifth grade? Second grade drops out for me.) and I remembered reading it; however, he remembered buying it at a book fair and was determined to keep it there.

When it comes to a digital chunk of books that we've lost ownership of and stacks of old electronic devices, have we lost anything?

Neither of us had read the book under contention in years but last night I did read a couple of teen romances I think I might have borrowed (by now, permanently) from a friend. They were awful, full of the kind of syrup and rigid character roles you find in mediocre sitcoms. Compared to the stuff teens have today, these are middle-grade at best. I remember reading them and envying the lip-glossed/perfect hair heroines and trying to fit those crazy rigid structures over my own experiences. Silly as they are, I've brought them home to live on our bookshelves.

As we share the space where we used to live, the books where our imaginations used to live scatter. If this stacks end up somewhere like Half Price, who's going to read them? We're talking about teens who are waiting by phones that are attached to the wall. Is it better to have those experience dissolve into the past? These are farcical relics--the "historical documents" of Galaxy Quest.

Guess NaNo does this to me. As I scramble to fill up the 50k word quota this month, I start to think about whether my obsession with books makes me a writer, a hoarder, or just a Former English Lit Major. And why my normally not-much-of-a-reader brother is so obsessed with his old books.

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