It’s World Book Day today. At least it is in the UK. The rest of the world marks World Book Day in April.
It never used to be empty, but it is today, and in fact has been slowly emptying for the past couple of months as I take dusty tomes to the local charity shop to dispose of. Not all of them went to the charity shop, as I kept a few in the hope that they will get one last read, even though I know it wont happen.
A few reference books were kept for, well, reference purposes.
But the majority went – simply because I had a bookshelf piled up with books I wasn’t reading and wasn’t likely to read again. My tastes have changed, as has my eyesight.
The simple fact is that at the end of a day spent doing nothing but reading and writing, sitting down to read a book with tired eyes is a bit of a chore.
What has made reading slightly more pleasurable though was the Christmas delivery of an e-book reader. Suddenly I can change the font size from eye-strain to comfortable. The ebook device is the modern answer to the Victorian magnifying glass in letting people read in comfort.
There is the secondary benefit that an e-book reader can hold a whole library of books within a paperback sized device.
I have a bookshelf, and it is empty – because the digital revolution has made it redundant.
The other fact is that I just dont read books that often. I like to relax by reading current affairs magazines, but that takes up most of the limited spare time at the end of the day I have, leaving no time for books.
And here is the curious thing – I read content of a quite high quality and so do for pleasure, but because it is packaged as a weekly periodical, it is not deemed to be on the same caliber as “a book”. I have been looked down upon for not reading books, even though my daily consumption of the written word is vast.
Indeed, quite a lot of the popular books that people hold up as “must reads” were often themselves originally printed as weekly short stories, and only later repackaged into book form. The repackaging of the same words from a weekly magazine into a book elevated those words from the mundane to the adulation accorded to “the book”.
My bookcase is empty and the wooden carcass is itself soon to be sent to the knackers yard. I wont miss it. But I suspect that visitors to the flat might wonder why I don’t own a bookcase.