Magical Realism, Writing, Fiction, Politics, Haiku, Books

sábado, marzo 22, 2008

Tangled Webs: Book Peripherals And Dinosaurs

There is a world of book peripherals. Two interesting examples from the past week:

*The New York Times blog raises the "question" of "bookshelf etiquette":
So I felt a little guilty when I stumbled on this stern edict from the Time blogger Matt Selman: “It is unacceptable to display any book in a public space of your home if you have not read it.” The statement touched off an ongoing debate, furthered on Scott McLemee’s Intellectual Affairs blog (and spilling over passionately into the comments section). Some debating points:

“Bookshelves are not for displaying books you’ve read…. Rather, the books on your shelves are there to convey the type of person you would like to be.” —Ezra Klein

“My experience is that some books end up accumulating out of a misguided attempt to win the approval of authors already well-entrenched on my shelves.” —McLemee

“I borrow books from the library and read them. If they pass the audition, then I buy them for my bookshelf.” —”Reluctant Librarian”

“Books represent the overriding point of conflict in my marriage.” —Richard LeComte

And then this: “That anyone would take the time to establish rules or ‘bookshelf etiquette’ means that s/he doesn’t have enough to do.” —”Adrian”
What an odd discussion. I don't think I have a "public" area in my home, and I don't have many people over who scan my shelves for significance. Maybe I live in a very bizarre, isolated world. Maybe I don't have enough strangers over.

*NPR ran a story about web sites that allow book people to share books. I heard this in the car; I have now signed up at two of the mentioned sites, and LibraryThing. Of these, by far the more intriquing to me is LibraryThing, because it can be used as a tool and not just as another, book oriented social networking site. If you enter books from your library in LibraryThing, the site lets you know others who have the same books in their lists. These lists are a great way to find other, similar books I might enjoy. You can see my library on both sites: my user name is "davidseth."

Am I alone in finding it odd that the NY Times blog, a web site, is telling me about etiquette involving actual, physical books on shelves when I might have visitors in my home, and that my local NPR radio station is now directing me to interesting web sites? This cross-pollination of media strikes me as unusual, probably because I think that newspapers and radio are dinosaurs from the last century that won't be around as we presently know them in another decade. They fuel their own demise, I think, by directing us to the more satisfying Internet. Without them telling us, how, I want to know, would we find these interesting sites?

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