My bookshelves talk to me.
Not in a creepy schizophrenic way. They don’t give me commands or tell me about the secret enemy’s movements. The news is usually good for that, so long as it isn’t Fox News. Fair and balanced my ass.
But, I digress.
It usually happens when I go to my fan, which is used every day regardless of season or indoors temperature save for when I leave the house. It rests near the window, which is right by the corner-curving shelves that contain the collections of my favored books. Some have been read many times. Some are even just display copies; the books by Stephen King that are too heavy to carry, that I have duplicates of in paperback. Some go unread, having drawn my eye before on some other shelf either from the many small and used retailers I frequent or from the big chain stores when the deals are too good to ignore or when the small places don’t cater to the need. I am fairly certain that software books and management/sales manuals would not have an industry were it not for the chains. No bibliophile truly wants them.
These tomes by both window and fan are the books that come to live with me. Sometimes they are hastily devoured, then shelved. Some simmer for a time before I can reach them. Others gain dust, either there as a reminder of why I shouldn’t impulse buy or simply because time or circumstance has caused me to put them on the back burner. At least one book had two chapters read but was shelved after reading them because I didn’t know if I had the stomach to follow through so grim and ghastly were those chapters. I do not know how I stomach that author sometimes, though he is one of my favorites. I wonder what is wrong with him frequently, and then ask myself why it is I continue to return to his well.
And as I pass these volumes, old and new alike, they whisper to me and draw my eyes. And soon I find a friend or companion for a time.
From there, we go everywhere together. The books jump from shelf to bag and we have our time in the sun. Sometimes I can’t help but carry more than one. As a reader I’ll admit to much capriciousness, and I sometimes do not know what I shall be in the mood for, so I carry backups. Sometimes I retreat to my e-reader which I reserve for books that I know I’ll never meet the author of or that I simply could not acquire through other means. Sometimes I know that ‘today is the day’ and that I will complete a book and simply must have a new book on hand when that one comes to its conclusion.
I refuse to be bored when such myriad options are available to entertain and inform me.
But, the recommendations almost always come from those shelves. Every book there I can tell you where I was when I came by it and why I picked it up. I know which are bargain books, which were rare finds, which ones were bequeathed, lent or gifted. Receipts in these books serve as bookmarks or confirmations of my own recollections. Books are the only items I have in my home to which eidetic memories are in place and my recollections are almost infallible in this respect.
And as I go to cycle the air with the fan, I take heed to the whispers. These are not the whispers of conspirators or malefactors, and if it is schizophrenia it is the most charitable and noble imaginary illness that keeps me informed and entertained in equal measure. I gladly submit myself to the rotting carcass of my brain if it be madness, and I will revel in insanity.
But I cannot bring myself to believe such a thing as a malady of the mind. Poe, King, Gibson, Tolkien, Rushkoff, Lao Tzu and Sanderson cannot be made to serve as villains.
I encourage others of a similar bent to consider these words and to listen for their own whispers. Even the tiniest shelf can speak to you, and the largest shelves have more refined chances to murmur and tempt your hands into perusing their contents.
Take the time to listen. You shan’t be disappointed.