2.27.2007

It is the Dust, Perhaps...

A few months ago I went to a baby shower for a mom who was expecting her second little boy. She had told her hostess that since she already had a boy, she was pretty fixed up clothes and supplies-wise. So the hostess threw her a children's book shower. (Which, by the by, I think is an awesome idea, and I had a lot of fun picking out some fun titles for her little boys.)

It so happened that the hostess of the shower had a tremendous collection of books, which she blamed largely on her husband, who had majored in philosophy and could not part with any of his school texts, whether or not he ever read them again. Four large bookcases in her living room, one in each corner. And I found myself admiring and appreciating the idea of such a home library. We have two bookcases ourselves, and while I have whittled it down occasionally, I do like to add to it and have a hard time parting with books. I like owning books. I thought most everyone did.

To my surprise, a warm discussion started up about home libraries as we munched and mingled at this baby shower. One of my friends in no uncertain terms declared that she didn't like spending money on books, that home libraries were for old-fashioned wealthy estates, that she didn't see the point of owning a book because she never read any book twice, and she loves going to the public library rather than having a musty old collection of her own taking up space at home.

I'm a big fan of the public library myself and we are just getting to the point where the Code Yellow children can be trusted to come along with me to the public library. But I am also in love with the idea of a home library and find something so enriching and lovely about well-worn favorites on shelves at home, and have always felt that it says something to my children about the value I place on reading and learning.

Some of the volumes on my shelves are from years of school - at one time required but surprisingly enjoyed. Others are inextricably linked to my childhood and just looking at them brings back a moment or a social experience or a feeling that I never expressed but that I felt while escaping into a book. Others have been read and read and read and I will never tire of them and I am glad they are mine, not touched by anyone else between the times I pick them up to love again.

I like a fresh, clean book, too, with uncracked spine and that new printy papery smell. I think I pay for a book partly for that new feeling - my own personal adventure waiting to be opened.

But after the talk at this baby shower (which I left coveting the new children's library of the guest of honor), my curiosity is piqued: Do you have a home library? Do you read and reread the books there, or are they kinda like badges of honor, showing that you read them, if not enjoyed them, once? (I have more than a few of those, to tell the truth.) Do you buy books or borrow books more often? Why? If you borrow because of budget, do you dream of the day you can buy books to your heart's content?

And, the zillion dollar question: Who said, "It is the dust, perhaps," to whom, and in what movie? (Hint: The line is in reference to a library and the movie is based on one of my most favorite books ever.)

20 comments:

Carbon said...

Hi Code Yellow Mama! Thanks for dropping by my site earlier.

When we moved 5 times in 2 years, I came to HATE our books. Packing them and carrying them around was SUCH a pain. I pared down my library to almost nothing because I realized that we never opened them or read anything twice, most were textbooks. I think a home library is beautiful idea but hate dusting around them. I also am cheap so I just go the the library. I love home design books or beautiful cookbooks so if I find one thru the library that I really like, then I'll eventually buy it.

Jen3 @ Amazing Trips said...

I love books and we have established quite a library (although, I have hung on to very few of my college & post-grad texts. Really. When am I ever going to want to read up on Micropalenotolgy again??).

For the most part, I like to keep all the books I've read, but because we are tight on space ... I'll periodically go through, select some books that I've enjoyed, make a note on the front page and forward it on to a family or friend - with the request that they read it, note it, and forward it on, too. Sometimes, these books make their way back to me - often not. Since I've started doing this, my family and friends will reciprocate - sending ME books that they enjoy & asking that I make a note and pass it on.

There are a few classic books in our collection that we couldn't part with. Mostly those that have been passed down through the generations and that we want to hold on to for our children.

A long while ago, I heard that even if you don't read all of them, having books in the house is a great way to get your kids hooked on reading. I remember as a kid perusing my parent's book shelves and I love visiting with people who have libraries (aka: a bookshelf in some room of the house stuffed full). As our children grow older I will definitely introduce them to the library experience - - but I will also introduce them to Amazon.com and Borders and we will spend LONG afternoons carefully selecting treasures for our libraries.

Today, I was eyeing our two big & VERY packed bookshelves and I was thinking that I'd really love to get another. If only we had the room... (I might hang shelves from the ceiling!!)

Lisa said...

Code Yellow Mama,

Thank you for stopping by my blog earlier (I'm actually curious how you found me)!

I love to read, but I can only usually get through my selection of magazines that come in the mail every month (BH&G and Country Living really don't even count...I usually only look at the pictures)! And that's only if I'm relaxing in the bathroom.

I do have an array of books, mostly self-awareness books. As you can see from the post you commented on at my blog, my life has had so much drama I haven't felt the need to get lost in a fantasy book--and every time I've tried, I end up falling asleep or becoming distracted, so I usually give it up. Much the same reason why I refuse to get into any TV shows...too frustrating when you can't follow it religiously!

I have no idea what movie your quote is from! Then again, my brain is fried. I can only muster up one movie with a library in it and that's Beauty and the Beast, although when I come back and see the answer, I'll probably know it!

Angela said...

Why Sense and Sensibility of course!

My husband is a rereader. In fact, he recommends a book, I start to read it, he steals it back and reads it again before I can read it once. I am a one-time reader so I am more for the library approach. But having books on our shelves makes me feel cultured and literate.

I don't know that my husband would know how to exist in a home without books. Even ones we've never read....

Morning Glory said...

Our home library has gotten smaller, but we have one. A lot of the books we had I picked up at yard sales, read and reread some, and then put them back into a yard sale. But the ones I love I never get rid of. I have some that I had as a young teenager, and certain series that I keep. We also have a small bookshelf that is just the books from when my girls were little. I have them here for the grandchildren to enjoy.

I can't imagine anyone thinking a home library is just for wealthy estates!

Lei said...

Angela beat me to it.

I am in love with books. I would love to have a home library.

After my first baby, I registered for books for my next baby shower, so I love the idea of a "book shower".

My kids each have their own miniature library in their rooms. I love that they love books. My oldest daughter is going to be one of those that falls asleep, flashlight in hand, I can tell. And that makes me giddy.

My great uncle was an english professor and when we visited him every summer he would take us to a bookstore and spend hundreds of dollars on "worthwhile" books for us. Between the 4 of us, I bet we have most, if not all, of the classics... some of them even first editions from his own collection.

Thanks for stopping by... :)

Thoroughly Mormon Millie said...

That's funny - I didn't recognize the S&S quote, but the whole time I was thinking, "Never liked the smell of books."

I LOVE home libraries. I love going to my grandmother's house and reading all her old stuff. She has the storybooks she used to read to my dad and uncle, still in beautiful shape. She has books that belonged to two or three generations before her because they all treasured books and kept everything (the Depression). Some of them are signed by my great-great-great grandfather. I can't think that any of my books will ever end up in the same shape, but what a treasure those old books are.

Bri never reads anything twice either, which is why he buys a new book about once a month and it's always a paperback. And then off it goes to DI. :)

An Ordinary Mom said...

If we didn't have books in our house then I think we would be missing a part of ourselves ... a huge part of ourselves. We LOVE books. My husband dreams of the day when he can have his own den with floor to ceiling bookshelves stocked with anything and everything he could possibly be interested in. Every time The Beauty and the Beast is playing, DH stops and drools over the library/ballroom just like Belle does.

With that being said, though, we are also constantly borrowing items from our local library. There are definitely some books that are meant to be borrowed, some books that are meant to be bought, read and then passed on and then other books that are meant to be kept for a lifetime.

I always enjoy perusing the bookshelves of people I know. You can learn a lot about a person by what is on their shelf.

By the way, I love the movie Sense and Sensibility!

Theresa said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Our family has more books than we have shelves for at the moment! My husband and I are re-readers, so if we find a book that we enjoy, we have to own it so that we can keep re-visiting it. We have lots of study books, some from school, but, also, some for our own personal study time. I'm currently collecting anything that Brock and Bodie Thoene have authored, as well as, Michael Phillips. AND since these authors are very prolific, I HAVE LOTS OF BOOKS!!! My mother lives with us, and she also is a bookworm, so both of her rooms are stacked with books. Oh, I almost forgot, we have two very full bookshelves of children's books, so that the grandkids have books at our house. Yep, home library is us!!!

Sketchy said...

I'm not looking to see if anyone of my previous 9 fellow posters answered this because I'm so excited to know the answer!!!

It's from Sense and Sensibility!!! Hugh Grant's character.

There I've got that out of my system. I love having books around. I've had to force myself lately for reasons of space to only keep the books I really love because I will reread those. Sometimes you are just in the mood for an old friend, savy?

I can't imagine not buying books for my kids either. Even if I didn't reread books myself. It's important for their development to go over books like the way they do. I think that's poor parenting.

Sketchy said...

OK I wasn't first (well I knew that just from being 10th!) but still, I knew the answer! That's so rare for me, I must celebrate with 2 posts to commemorate!!!

Katrina said...

Yes, we have a home library. And while I have to say it wasn't particularly enjoyable to pack and move all those books when we moved two years ago, I could not part with our books. Our "library" has 3 large bookshelves in it, but to be honest, we also have small bookshelves in each bedroom, and in the family room, too (not to mention the 10+ boxes of books in the basement that don't have a permanent home right now). Books are everywhere!

My husband and I dream of having a library with built-in bookshelves, overstuffed reading chairs, and beautiful reading lamps. But the most important ingredient in our library is, of course, the books.

I do like the public library, but I also love to own books - particularly non-fiction which I like to keep on hand for reference or re-reading, but I also like to own novels by my favorite authors.

And children's books are always a treasure to have around -- even after the children have outgrown them, I think.

Oh - and that baby shower idea is really great. I'd love to go to one of those!

Lauren S. said...

I was an elementary school teacher, so I have a HUGE collection of children's books. I do tend, however, to get my "grown-up" books at the library. If I find a book that I especially enjoy, I will buy it. However, if I had a copy of every book I read, I would have no where to put them!

megachick said...

we have a very small home library. my daughter has a significant collection already. even though most of them haven't been read in ages, i never thought to get rid of them, like i'd like to get rid of her neglected toys. i think it's partly because our (mine & my sister's) children's library was ripped from us when we moved cross country at the age of 10/14. granted, we had outgrown the regular reading of them, but the legacy! to have had all those little golden books, and all the dr. suess's! lost! i am too cheap to buy them all back now, which is why a)almost all of my daughter's books are gifts from friends and family and b)i go to the library. the library is also my choice because i rarely re-read anything. we are very lucky to have an elementary school librarian as a friend and she picks great books for pooka--and gets them signed when the authors visit the school!

No Cool Story said...

Sense and Sensibility...Angela...

I love home libraries! I love books, I love going inside book stores, for both new and used books, I could spend hours and hours there and at the library.
When I was little I loved looking at my dad's books, he had so many books about so many different things, I loved them all.

Jennifer B. said...

I wonder if people who don't yearn for a library just haven't read enough really good books. Maybe they have read mostly mediocre stuff.

Hard for me to understand because I love good books and I like to own them, read them, and sometimes just look at them on the shelf.

Jamie said...

I love books. I mostly go for the classics, since I can find them cheaper, but every now and then I'll splurge and get a new book. When my oldest was 4, I had a friend who was a 3rd grade teacher and I'd order Scholastic books from her. My husband would just roll his eyes and say, "Who are you kidding- those aren't for the kids". He was right. My oldest daughter is more of a reader than I am (guess if I didn't have 4 kids, I could read more...) but it's fun going to the bookstore and discussing books.

ksl said...

When we moved into our house I made the closet under the stairs into a "book nook" for my kids. I put the biggest bookshelf that I could fit in it and put up posters of childrens books on the wall. They LOVE it and we read in there all the time. I don't usually go to the library because it scares me a little to take 3 kids 4 and under to a place where people expect quiet.

Blog Antagonist said...

A fellow book lover! Always happy to meet one. I too covet the idea of a home library. I always have. I have floor to ceiling bookshelves in my living room, which are absolutely full to bursting, as well bags and boxes throughout the house, and several large boxes in the garage. I do part with a lot of my books, but the really special ones I just can't let go. I am absolutely determined that my next house will have a home library. Since my dining room functioned as a playroom for 12 years, I think it's only fair. :>)

Jennifer said...

Oh, yes, I have a library. I've always had books, but recently I converted this random extra room (I guess it's supposed to be a formal living room) into a "library," although I still feel odd calling it that. I just have one wall of shelves there, and shelves in each of the kid's room, the basement etc. I buy lots of children's books and non-fiction and Christian discipleship stuff that my public library doesn't carry. I check out kids' books and cookbooks and fiction from the public library.

Speaking of taking the Code Yellow children to the library, I have been meaning to ask you about your leashes. My dear 2 1/2 year old isn't much of a stroller boy, and we have a trip to the airport coming up in April. E-mail me, will you?