Sunday, November 02, 2003

When strangers ask what I do for a living and I tell them that I am a librarian, they - more often than not - respond with "Oh, so you must like books". I usually smile at this point and restrain from giving the following lecture:

I don't really like books. I like the ideas and stories contained in books. I like the community of readers and the community of writers. To "really like books" is to have a book fetish and this a form of deviant behaviour that should be discouraged

Now some book lovers have a book fetish and others do not. My litmus test that I use to determine the books fetishers in my midst is to note the ability of a person to lend their favourite book to someone they know and normally would trust. A person with a book fetish will not lend out a book lest a corner gets creased or dropped in the bathtub or left on the subway. A person who is book-fetish-free will *worry* that the book may never return, but will lend the book nonetheless because they love the book so much that they take that risk in order to share the experience of said book.

I have been proud at my lack of book-fetishing but I am afraid that I showing distressing signs of book-coveting - an early warning sign of the book fetisher. For example, I have been trolling eBay and abebooks recently looking for rare back issues of The Baffler [if you have issues 1,2, or 4 you are willing to part with, please let me know] and McSweeneys [I have a complete set. *contented sigh*].

And I also have to admit that I am looking for a long-term collection/object relationship.

I have a friend who has a friend who has, what I think, is an example of a perfect collection. He collects editions of Alice in Wonderland. His collection fits all the criteria of an ideal collection:
  • the objects being collected are not very large
  • the objects being collected are not necessarily very expensive
  • there is significant variation in the collection
  • it not an official "collectible" that is produced just to be collected, like Simpsons memorabilia
  • it could, in theory, be taken in by a museum or library in the future

I have tried collecting in the past and have continuously failed. At one time I actively collected books about Generation X and books about zines.

Tibor Kalman advised that everyone should have a collection. He said... well, I can't tell you *exactly* what he said, because the book I have on Tibor is with the all the rest of my books. They are in a closet and have been since I moved into my new abode and will remain until I save enough money for proper bookshelves.

Perhaps this is indication enough that I should put the starting of any new collections on hold.

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