Monday, January 09, 2012

What do you collect?

I realized today that I am a collector. This would not come as a surprise to my mother who threw out many of my prized collections of rocks, sticks, buttons, and happymeal toys over the years, but it came as a surprise to me.

It's been years since I collected anything, really collected anything. The last time when I wanted to have the whole set was most likely in the Beanie Baby era. I've said flippantly that I "collect shoes" but really what I mean by that is that I have more pairs than are strictly necessary. I have none of the collector's zeal for researching, coveting, finding, buying, displaying, and discussing my shoe "collection."

I collect old computers ... but that's a bit more like a graveyard waiting to be recycled.

I definitely collect coffee mugs. Actually ... I don't. Once people know you're a coffee addict, they give you mugs. I landed a nifty set of four this Christmas. One has a penguin on it. Very cute. But I haven't purchased a coffee mug for myself in five years. Four years if you count the travel mug I purchased while at a week-long workshop after realizing I'd forgotten to bring the travel mug I had at home (a gift).

And then I realized, I'm a book collector. I collect books.

I know -- not shocking -- but it was to me.

I had never seen the hodgepodge of paperbacks lining overstuffed shelves as a collection. Really I'd just seen it as a way of life. (Which probably should have been my first clue.) Every year I get more books. I weed out some to give away, but I always buy more. Ones I want. Ones I've researched. Ones I've coveted. But I thought of it not as an activity, but as evidence of time passing.

Days turn into weeks and books accumulate. It's a fact of life, isn't it?

I was always weirded out in the heyday of of home renovation TV when the homeowners would cite the floor-to-ceiling built in bookcases as having no function and needing to go.

"I just don't know what to do with them!" the wife would squeal.

The husband would state longingly to the TV host, "I'm gonna be happy to take a sledgehammer to those."

And I felt a little faint.

Sledgehammer? Don't know what to do? They're bookshelves! Fill them with books! Surely you have books, oodles and oodles of books overgrowing their very modest bookshelves every year and you need those gorgeous built in shelves! Surely! Right?

Even with my Nook tablet I'm still buying paper books. Sometimes because if the paper book is the same price as the ebook I say, what the hell, and I go and buy it from my local retailer. If I'm not actively saving money I might as well be spending that extra cash locally. And sometimes I want the paper book because I intend to keep the book. Display it on my shelf. Reread it one day. If I'm marginally impressed by book one of a series, I'll buy book two for my Nook. But if I'm desperate for the sequel, then I know I need the paper product. ... because I'm a collector.

Thanks to theLiz for pointing me to this wonderful video. The blurb about it in YouTube says that a couple in Toronto spent many sleepless nights moving, stacking and animating the books at Type bookstore in Toronto -- and you buy everything you see in the video at Type! The same couple also shot the "Organizing the Bookcase" video earlier in the post. I can't take credit for any of these videos, but their marvelous little pieces of ingenuity.

Highly Recommended