Sunday, December 31, 2006

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Did anyone read the Nobel Prize address written by Oran Pamhuk in this week's [I]New Yorker[/I]?
It's an amazing piece of writing about what it means to be a writer. One of the things that struck me was when he talked about growing up in Istanbul how fortunate he was to have access to his father's library of 1500 volumes. It sounded so sophisticated, to have a library of 1500 volumes. I imagined a shaded room, filled with leather-bound volumes, all lined up, organized by subject matter, author, and century.
Then, I started thinking about how many books I have in my house-- I really couldn't say-- I know it's an awful lot. I'm guessing that it's more than 1500 volumes, although it's a pretty eclectic collection and at least half, if not more, are children's books. I don't have a full representation of all of the classics, and I have lots and lots of hardcover contemporary fiction.
I think Shirley Jackson, in LIFE AMONG THE SAVAGES describes my house best.
It begins: "Our house is old, noisy and full. When we moved in we had two children and about five thousand books. I expect that when we finally overflow and move out again we will have perhaps twenty children and easily half a million books. We also own assorted lamps and chairs and beds and rocking horses and lamps and doll dresses and ship models and paint brushes and literally thousands of socks...."
So, how many books in your house? Do you have a "library" in the sense that it represents some kind of organized collection of writers or works, or is it just a collection of whatever you happened to pick up lately? Do you keep old college textbooks? Do you get rid of books? If so, how do you decide what to keep and what to get rid of?