I read Nick Hornby’s The Polysyllabic Spree on a plane trip recently. It is built on a nice conceit: a month-by-month accounting of books bought and books read.
My eye was caught by the following on page 128, as he wrote about some new acquisitions:
But as I was finding a home for them in the Arts and Lit non-fiction section (I personally find that for domestic purposes, the Trivial Pursuit system works better than Dewey), I suddenly had a little epiphany: all the books we own, both read and unread, are the fullest expression of self we have at our disposal. My music is me, too, of course – but as I only really like rock and roll and its mutations, huge chunks of me – my rarely examined operatic streak, for example – are unrepresented in my CD collection. And I don’t have the wall space or the money for all the art I would want, and my house is a shabby mess, ruined by children… But with each passing year, and with each whimsical purchase, our libraries become more and more able to articulate who we are, whether we read the books or not.
A nice thought, open to some discussion, but which I only picked up on a second reading. On my first, I was distracted by his remark about Dewey and Trivial Pursuit 😉
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