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July 10, 2011

yeah that’s right i went there.

work really takes it out of me. well, not necessarily work, but that commute can be totally exhausting. the other day, i took the skytrain two more stops farther than usual and made an after-work stop at the downtown chapters.

chapters is not necessarily my favourite bookstore to buy from. i like it because it always has what i need. (or usually). when i worked an office job in downtown toronto, i could actually see the world’s biggest bookstore out of our office windows. it was right across the street from us. i would literally get up in the middle of the day and go across the street to buy books. just books. any books. books for my friend’s new baby. books to be sent up in a package to a coworker’s tree-planting cousin. books books books books!

i do love books. i love buying books. i will always spend money to buy books. honestly, walking to the top level of a chapters after a long day immediately gets the dopamine flushing my brain. i can feel like – like people feel it during sex, drugs, music. i immediately relax, being in a book store. it is physical.

now for the weird confession time.


i never sell my books. i never give my books away.

does that make me weird?

i would never even fucking consider it. i lend my books (reticently) but if i’m moving, i pack them up into boxes and ship them out, priority. i don’t have garage sales, or free-for-alls at my house. this is not a judgment statement, because lots of my friends do do this, and it makes perfect sense. but i can’t bring myself to do it. my book collection has taken OVER my bedroom at home in toronto. at some point in my life, i guess i’m going to have to start getting rid of some of them. but ever since one book purge when i was younger, i do not get rid of them.

to me, books are visual milestones. i can look at a book on my shelf and remember where i got it, why i got it. if it was a pre-planned purchase, or spur of the moment. if i liked it or hated it. if it was a recommendation from a friend, a lover, a man i wanted to impress. if it was for a school course. and i remember how i read it, what feelings were stirred up in me. if it changed me. what it felt like to curl up in whatever bed i was in and read it.


now, you can call me a weirdo, or an irresponsible spender. but if i want to read a book, i always purchase it. i never go to library. i get it. permanently.

yes, you heard correctly. i’ve eschewed the library for fiction pleasure reading for… at least six years now. since undergrad, at the very least. books of poetry, i’ll still go to the library for. but fiction – no. and i’m not entirely sure why, so this is why i have this blog post.

i think of books as investments, maybe. a degree in english language and literature has taught me, if nothing else, that writing survives. from the first thing i ever read in an english class (beowulf. haha.) to the last (this would probably be either the crying of lot 49 or … i don’t know, something from my renaissance literature class) i was so struck with the way that literature is stubborn. it exists. it is passed on, perhaps orally, perhaps physically, from person to person.

and now, with the threat of the kindle, books might become obsolete…

i hate hate hate hate hate fucking HATE the idea of the kindle/kobo/whatever. ipad. ereader. blah blah blah. ebooks are so awful.  to buy an ebook over a physical book (barring extenuating circumstances that might me look like a judgmental asshole like, oh i dont know, you can’t physically walk to a store to buy a book, etc, etc) makes me look at you and want to scream. PHILISTINE. should i grab my slingshot? (bible reference.) yes, i realise this makes me look like a snob. a book snob. (surpassed only in ANNOYINGNESS by fucking music snobs). but come on. we wrote on vellum/stone/papyrus/paper for years, venerating the written word, living our lives sometimes by the written word, and now, with the advent of technology (not all of which is hunky dory, i might ass) we’re throwing that history to the wayside and picking up our ipads? uh, no. sorry but no. i go to book stores (new and used) and open the books to smell along their inside spines. just for that book smell. the smell of paper. whether it be a new book (the paper smelling like glue, sometimes like odd gasoline, sometimes like ink) or an old book (the paper smelling like dust and that undefinable old book smell) there is something synaesthetic and pleasurable in experiencing a book with more than one sense.

i understand that you want to “pack light” and that with an ereader you can take thousands of books with you. that makes sense to me, it really does. but i still get a thrill when there’s some wonderful-looking man sitting next to me on public transit and he has his finger in an old copy of aldous huxley’s “brave new world.” (true story). it always brings up a wave of great questions. why is he reading that? what’s on the cover – i can’t see. where did he get that? is it his parents’? i wonder if there are notes written in the margins.

INDEED, one of the reasons that i bought all my books used in undergrad (before the threat of bedbugs scarred me for life and caused me to put newly purchased books in my freezer) was because i loved, loved, loved seeing people’s old notes scrawled. what one person highlights in a copy of a history of the world in 10 1/2 chapters might be completely different from what i highlight. it’s an insight into a person’s brain, the most intimate parts of their sulci and gyri.  people react viscerally and importantly to literature, and to have the privilege of seeing that is something to be honoured, honestly.



woo.. i got kind of angry about that.

you know what? call me a fucking book snob. whatever.  i take solace in dog-ears and bent spines. i’ll be an old lady, cradling my books. at least i’m (fairly) well read.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 10, 2011 7:31 pm

    Okay, “I might ass” is my new favourite (presumed) typo.

  2. July 12, 2011 7:17 pm

    hahahah IM KEEPING IT.

  3. Sam permalink
    December 26, 2011 5:08 am

    Fuck the Kindle.

  4. August 5, 2013 9:11 am

    An outstanding share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a co-worker who had been doing a little research on this. And he in fact ordered me lunch because I stumbled upon it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending time to discuss this subject here on your website.|


  1. not wanted. on voyage. « everywhere leonine.

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