The Blue Stocking Society

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Why we Keep Books

 

A vision of the future often includes the words – “a paperless society” For me this conjures up a post apocalyptic scenario. A world without physical books? No thanks.

Don’t get me wrong, I love audio books. It’s great that I can get through the designated book club novel of the month whilst simultaneously mowing my lawn, vacuuming the house and walking the dogs. But for me (and a lot of people out there) nothing replaces a real book.

AS AN OBJECT OF BEAUTY: Individually a book can be a beautiful thing. The binding can be a beautiful thing whether it is an antique leather that has been burnished with years of handling, or an ornately gilded cloth bound example. Artful typography, exquisite illustrations, the texture of quality paper and of course the beauty of the words within can all add up to make certain volumes irresistible. Collectively, books provide colour and ambience to a room. They express our aesthetic taste and our interests just as any decorator choice might do.

I arrange books by colour (don’t hate me). I have a strong visual memory and remember books by the colour of the cover and spine. It also makes for a more pleasing bookshelf. I don’t go as far as displaying books with the text block facing out as I would never be able to find a book again but for some, the textural monochromatic effect is soothing, but I don’t believe those that actually want to reference their books would ever do this.

                          Books arranged by colour (photo by Tara Pearce for EST Magazine)

                          Books arranged by colour (photo by Tara Pearce for EST Magazine)

THE INNER LIFE: The contents of a bookshelf can communicate so much about the owner, their character, their hobbies and passions, even when that person is no longer with us. We inherited a vast collection of books from my father in law and these books provide insight into the man, the grandfather my children never had the privilege to know. The leather-bound legal books reveal his long and illustrious career in the law. His intense interest in Australian history is there, along with poetry and an interest in geology he explored later in his life. My favourite: his humble Collins Pocket dictionary, with annotations and underlining of words he found fascinating and that would add weight to his speeches in court.

                   an annotated page from my late father-in-laws Collins Pocket Dictionary

                   an annotated page from my late father-in-laws Collins Pocket Dictionary

 

In the age of digital publishing, Kindles and a myriad of different forms of entertainment we still buy books. In fact the effect of digital books may mean that in terms of physical books may see the decline of cheap mass produced books and the rise of high quality hard cover books. Physical books may then ascend to the lofty heights that they once held as rarified items.

We should stand to swap a few of our swiftly disintegrating paperbacks for volumes that proclaim through the weight and heft of their materials, the grace of their typography and the beauty of their illustrations, our desire for their contents to assume a permanent place in our hearts
— Alain de Botton

Some books just wouldn’t be the same unless they are sitting on my shelf, coffee table or by my bedside. Books that can be lingered over and the same sentence re read over and over because its language is almost painterly and you need time to conjure up the picture the author is trying to paint.

I know I am not alone because the vintage books I offer for sale are always popular and I really love finding out what drew my customers to that particular book or group of books. I would love to hear what attracts you to certain books and what makes you hold onto some in particular

Caroline

                         My first editions of Edith Wharton - one of my favourite authors

                         My first editions of Edith Wharton - one of my favourite authors