Last weekend I had the rare opportunity of going to the library with only one child. Instead of juggling three of them, preventing each from making another scream, I got to cater to just the three-year-old and myself, helping him choose a topic he wanted to read about (“ducks,” in this case, which meant we came home with three Jackie Urbanovic books), and having a minute to browse the sale shelves.
The thing about library sale shelves is that bibliophiles have to approach them with caution. Hardbound books for a dollar?? Paperbacks for fifty cents?? Yeah, it can be easy to get carried away — i.e. to carry away more books than your shelves at home can hold. So I have a self-enforced rule that I only buy the ones that speak to me, where something about the book beckons me to own and read it. Often that means I walk away without anything, but last Saturday I latched onto a title that just had to follow me home: Righting the Mother Tongue: From Olde English to Email, the Tangled Story of English Spelling.
I mean, how often is a title that cool? You know you would have done the same thing: yanked your very last dollar (the one you’d been thinking of as “parking garage money,” not to be spent otherwise) out of your wallet and thrust it at the librarian (sitting behind the sign saying you could only use your credit card for $3 or more).
Or maybe I just happened to be in the mood for that sort of thing that day.
As I’ve opened the book and read pages from it off and on this week, I’ve thought about how mood-driven reading is for me, how often I abandon books a few pages in not because there’s anything wrong with them but simply because they’re not what I felt like reading at the time. A year ago I admitted on the blog (https://nikkimantyla.wordpress.com/2009/09/07/reading-into-how-we-read/) that I’d even done that with Pride and Prejudice, which later, once I was in the right frame of mind, became one of my all-time favorite books (of course).
The curse of it is, though, that I end up with way “too many” (a loose term generally applied by non-bibliophilic outsiders). Not only are there bookshelves all over our house, but a precarious pile of them perches on my nightstand (see also my post about reading slumps https://nikkimantyla.wordpress.com/2009/12/12/reading-slumps/) because I need several books right there, totally accessible, to fulfill whatever reading craving I’m having on a given night, whether fiction or nonfiction, humorous or dramatic, etc.
It’s sort of the same problem I have getting dressed every day: I want to wear what I’m in the mood for, and who can predict that ahead of time?
No wonder I can never manage to pack light when I travel! Not only does my suitcase have to fit an outfit for each possible temperament, but it also needs a book for each one, too (which gets heavy).
This possibly means that it’s about time for me to get a Kindle.
With the holiday season and the travel it involves, how do you manage to have the books you want at hand? What books have you been in the mood for lately? Ducks? The history of spelling? Or something else altogether?
p.s. WordPress is giving me trouble creating links right now, which is why they are stupidly clunky at the moment instead of streamlined into the text. Sorry for the clutter! I’m hoping they’ll get the glitch fixed soon.