Since high school I’ve amassed what I consider a valuable collection, curating an extensive catalog heavily weighted toward travel narrative, memoir, journalism, literary studies and other non-fiction genres my kids can easily find a way to make fun of. ”You’re a book geek, dad,” my daughter has told me on more than one occasion, and I know it’s true.
What's worth mentioning is that I treat my books almost like records. (I collect those with great passion and fussiness, too, but that’s a whole other story.) I don’t read my books once and move on. I return to them again and again, relishing the contour of the sentences, the movement of the verbs, the way they transport and transform me. I sometimes reference them if only to recall a single phrase or description. Just now I distracted myself by typing “description” and reached for Mark Twain’s intoxicating account of the Mississippi River at sunrise (“The water ... gives off spectral little wreaths of white mist ...").
Odd affliction, this bookish inclination. But hasn’t everyone been enraptured and enlightened by the printed page, if only for a few fleeting moments?