The Signal

Serving the College since 1885

Monday May 20th

OPINION: One can never have too many books

<p><em>Books cater to people of all interests and lived experiences. (Photo courtesy of </em><a href="" target=""><em>Flickr</em></a><em> / Andy Lamb, Jan. 4, 2013)</em></p>

Books cater to people of all interests and lived experiences. (Photo courtesy of Flickr / Andy Lamb, Jan. 4, 2013)

By Brinda Patel

In society, there is an irrational perception that owning a substantial amount of books is crazy, as many assume that introverts or loners are mostly likely to have such a collection. However, nothing can be further from the truth. 

Collecting books is an obsession of a lifelong learner. While books may be educational, they are also sources of comfort. Whether it’s a tasteful romance or a robust thriller, readers can leave behind the woes of everyday life. Each book offers a unique experience that effortlessly captures one’s imagination.

Books may be prone to wear and tear, but their importance is priceless. A bookshelf filled to the brim is not a display of wealth or pompous brags; it holds memories and moments of self-reflection. Discussing books with others can also help create social connections, leaving a positive impact on one's mental health and overall well-being. 

Each book owned is a part of readers’ personal history, shaping their identity through time. It’s an expansion of their knowledge and imaginative way of thinking. A wide collection also enables readers to share their books with their loved ones, allowing them to understand the symbolism of each story. 

English author Neil Gaiman wrote in The Guardian, “Books are the way that we communicate with the dead. The way that we learn lessons from those who are no longer with us, that humanity has built on itself, progressed, made knowledge incremental rather than something that has to be relearned, over and over. There are tales that are older than most countries, tales that have long outlasted the cultures and the buildings in which they were first told.”

Sometimes, book collectors may be at the cusp of hoarding, but they couldn't care less. If there’s a genuine intent behind each book purchase, let them be!

James Haughton, a volunteer for Gladstone’s Library in the U.K., wrote, “There is a permanence to books that is comforting in what can often be a fairly sterile world. For this reason, it surely makes sense to collect a huge number of books…To collect is to understand the importance of something within not just your own life, but within society itself.” 

Collecting books is an art that cannot be explained. It’s also a skillful labor of love and individuality. Every annotation and dog-eared page preserves the memory of reading something that stands out. Some may purchase books for specific genres, franchises, authors or physical materials, whether hardcover, clothbound or paperback.

Every person is different, thus their collection will be different. Some may own thousands, while others may own mere hundreds. Some people may organize their books on pristine shelves and decorative lights, while others may have them scattered in every personal area. These people have invested their time and money in curating a collection that speaks to their personality. They are not just sharing their books for the heck of it. They are sharing the emotions felt while reading. 

The idea of having a vast amount of books is rather ingenious. People don’t collect books for show. If that were the case, it’s a shame to think about the overwhelming amount of money wasted when it could’ve been saved up for a rainy day.


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