Better in theory than in practice

Every so often while you are on Twitter instead of checking your work email or geting ready to go to bed (neither of which I am currently guilty of in the least) you stumble upon something. A random retweet to an article that says something wonderful.

An article about books that you’ve never read, and may never read. About the possibility and the idea of a book:

I think it’s possible to love the idea of a book or its title (how many great titles have been wasted on mediocre books) or the way it feels in your hands or looks on your shelf or smells or the memories it evokes or the possibilities it contains. Many of us own books that we treasure solely as objects or talismans, whether due to any abovementioned reasons or for more sentimental ones. I think it’s possible that the feeling we have for a book, based on affinity, memory, or potential, is sufficient to serve as the only justification necessary for our enthusiasm. I might even argue, with Mallarmé, that the ideal book is one that we never open, since an unopened book contains our dreams, whereas an open book contains someone else’s.

I have books like these, and so does everybody else. There is the Wizard of Oz, which I like more in theory than in practice. I like the idea of that book, that you had everything you needed all along and it was just the journey of trying to figure that out. That you find exactly what you need when you are not looking for it. That meaning is something I love. I can’t say I have watched the movie more than once or twice and can’t remember much from it. I love the song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and the Scrubs Wizard of Oz episode “My Way Home.” But I don’t actually love the book, or the play. I have a reputation for liking it and I feel that is unwarranted, or at least somewhat. I think I just like it the way Stephen Sparks likes his book.

Then there is the difference between books that I own and books that I read. I don’t reread books so if I read a book it ceases to be of use to me unless it has some kind of other intrinsic value. Say a Penguin classic edition, now that has value to it. Lots and lots of value. Not that I would ever read one but I find their presence on my bookshelf comforting and I take joy from just knowing they are there. I have no intention of reading beautiful books but I own them nonetheless, and love some of them for some strange reason.


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