Monday, November 27, 2017

Books Do Furnish a Room

I am rather taken by an expression, much used by the younger members of my family, 'Is it a thing?' Or perhaps, since I've never seen it written, 'Is it a Thing?'

I had probably heard it before without paying particular attention, but when I first noticed it was when my recently-married son gave his wife a six-month anniversary present. Yes, I know — mine neither. Those costs could fairly mount up in forty-seven years.

His sister's husband, definitely upstaged, asked in alarm, 'Is it a Thing?' That, apparently, is the standard question to establish whether it could be discounted as merely an ignorable random act of chivalry (or madness, depending on which way you look at it — heaven help him if he forgets next year), or must be taken seriously as a new standard expectation.

There has been a lot of surprise in the past two or three years that the predicted eclipse of paper books by eBooks hasn't happened. Inches of newspaper columns have been written about the reasons for that — some very scientific, pointing out that the absorption rate from reading on line is a third less, others going on the psychological satisfaction the artifact gives.

But apparently, the sales of real books have had a recent boost because posting a photograph of yourself with your bookshelf has become a Thing — Shelfies, as opposed to Selfies. Even if your eBook is stocked with James Joyce and Thomas Aquinas, for all anyone knows your choice of reading might be Dan Brown and Fifty Shades of Grey. Real books can say something about your excellent literary taste without your having to work the conversation round to obscure literary topics to let you establish your credentials. 'This is who I am,' your Shelfie is saying.

And having books there on display is a bonus, even if you leave aside what's inside them. Their presence creates an atmosphere of quiet enjoyment. They have colorful jackets to brighten a room and they have an inimitable, delicious inky-papery smell. So if they've become a Thing it can only be good news.

And they hold their value too: I still haven't got over seeing a book I bought as a student for three shillings (the equivalent then of about fifty cents) in an antiquarian bookshop for two hundred pounds.


Susan D said...

Over at the D E Stevenson FB group, we've recently been posting our DES shelfies. Just because. Had no idea it was A Thing.

Interesting to see how many of them look alike. :^)

Aline Templeton said...

Lovely to hear about the DE group's shelfies, Susan! I'm a great fan - I recommended Miss Buncle's Book to Persephone and wrote the intro. Met the family too!!

Marianne Wheelaghan said...

Oh, a shelfie sounds fun, but which shelves to pick?(I also had no idea it was thing!) I think a house without books would be soulless and empty. Some of the older books with their wonderful covers are objets d'art!

Aline, what a bargain your three shilling book is!