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Jan 28, 2021
About My Library

"A precious - mouldering pleasure - 'tis -/To meet an Antique Book -/In just the Dress his Century wore-/A privilege - I think." Emily Dickinson

"There is no Frigate like a Book/To take us Lands away." Emily Dickinson

Why collect books? Augustine Birrell once said, "Good as it is to inherit a library, it is better to collect one." I began collecting books in college -- it did not make financial sense to sell back books for only a few cents on the dollar, so I kept them.

By the time I graduated I had amassed over 100 books. At this point, however, I knew I wanted to keep the books -- in fact I wanted more. Each book had with it a memory -- perhaps of the class in which I read the book, or of some event which occurred while I read the book. More often, each book had a certain passage or chapter that seemed particularly influential on me.

So why keep them? My wife often asks me if it wouldn't be easier to simply borrow the books from a library. I could do that, but then the books would not be mine. The books that sit on my bookshelf stand as badges of my accomplishments. One cannot read a book and not have it affect that person's being -- by reading, one absorbs new thoughts and ideas and experiences, and thereby grows. The books on my bookshelf, then, stand as signposts, identifying the many thoughts and ideas that have been incorporated into what I am today.

Why collect books? Augustine Birrell said, "Libraries are not made; they grow." Every book I add to my library is a book I have read (in sum or in part) or hope to read; each new book is a chance to experience new thoughts, ideas, and experiences. Each book added is a chance to grow and develop a little bit more. In addition, one might argue that the maxim from physics, "objects in motion tend to remain in motion," applies equally well to libraries -- a growing library tends to continue growing!

Lastly, collecting books provides me with a sense of calm and serenity in this age of instant communication and lowest-common-denominator entertainment provided by television and radio. With books, I control the volume and when "commercial breaks" occur. Furthermore, especially when reading fiction, I become the casting director (after all, Tom Hanks was just not who I pictured Sherman McCoy from The Bonfire of the Vanities to be). Of course, "casting" and "directing" books that could never become movies is much more enjoyable -- could you really imagine Hollywood making a movie based on Paradise Lost? But in my mind, it is all played out -- can't you just see Lucifer sitting on the stairway to Heaven, debating with himself whether to forsake his fellow demons and seek repentance but eventually coming to the conclusion that he owed a duty to those he led into exile ("All hope to me is lost. Evil be now my good.")

About Me

I am a father of three, husband to one, former astronomy student, government consumer protection lawyer (and proud of it), and observer of life. As a lawyer, I read and write for a living (mostly legal briefs and memoranda) and have published several articles in legal and scientific journals. When not protecting consumers, I enjoy camping, reading, listening to music, and competing in marathons, ultramarathons, and triathlons. In addition to collecting books, I am the author of two poetry chapbooks: Explorations (Finishing Line Press, 2018) and Haunted by Ghosts of Past and Present Love (Finishing Line Press, 2019). My poetry has also appeared in Fredericksburg Literary & Art Review, Penultimate Peanut, Constellations, and multiple poetry anthologies.

Washington, DC
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