Sunday, January 16, 2022

How many books does it take?

 This New York Times article "How many books does it take to make a place feel like home" has generated a lot of attention among book lovers online. It's a compelling question. One number that gets mentioned in the article is 1,000. But of course, there are a lot of considerations to take into account for each of us in coming up with our own number. But on the other hand, how many books is too many? The photos in this article of luxurious, commodious, and even ostentatious shelving remind us how book ownership not only implies the resources to amass the books themselves but the resources needed to shelter and display them. How many of us have boxes of books that we may nominally own, but since they are packed away, we don't have easy access to them, nor can we really derive much pleasure from their presence. Perhaps the worst sign of too many books is when one must go to the library to get a book because our own personal copy is submerged in archived boxes instead of being available on our shelves. That very thing has happened to, ahem, some of my best friends. One thing that many of us agree on, though, is that our books on display on our shelves can reflect back to us who we are, what flights of the imagination give us pleasure, and what books have woven themselves into the fabric of our lives.