Books and the Reading Compulsion

September 30, 2008

Linda Hewitt continues a dialogue about “Neat Old Books,” books that are simply too pleasurable to be forgotten. In this post, Linda confides her addiction to books and reading and the way in which it has shaped how she and her equally book-addicted husband Robert live.


STARTED READING YOUNG AND NEVER STOPPED:
I began to read when I was three and have never stopped. Nothing printed has ever been safe around me, and anything printed is just about irresistible to me.

MANY WAYS TO GET BOOKS:
When I was a child, I was fortunate enough to have adults either give me books or arrange access to them. When I got my first job, the summer between my freshman and sophomore years in college, my first paycheck went for books, and boys quickly learned that books were the gifts of choice. I married an artist who is as compulsive a reader as I, and some of the happiest hours of vacations in a multitude of interesting and scenically spectacular locations have been spent in bookstores, usually of the “used and rare” variety. There is an unfortunately long list of domestic and international dealers who, aided by FedEx, UPS and USPS, have added to our stacks. Speaking of those stacks, the house is full of them because my husband Robert has made a hobby of learning to build extremely handsome bookshelves. It’s been said that some people furnish with books, but we furnish for them.

OUR KIND OF BOOKS:
Since both of us work in creative fields that require reference, many of the books we’ve bought have been new and/or for a purpose. At the other extreme is a small collection of fine bindings. In between is the fun stuff, the books bought for no reason other than that they looked as if they’d be an enjoyable read. A lot of those books came from the more-obscure shelves or “miscellany” catalog pages of the “used and rare” bookstores mentioned earlier. Some of them turned out to be duds (deaccessed or, depending on time and inclination, packed away in storage), but most were a total delight – and these were often the most unpretentious, modest volumes.

NEAT OLD BOOKS:
It is from the ranks of the delightful that these “Neat Old Books” posts are drawn. We hope that you get as much pleasure from them as have we. We hope, also, that you will amass an ever-growing list of “used and rare” bookshelves to mine for your own delectation.

Books are no more a luxury to the thirsty mind than water to the thirsty body.
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