Have you read a book so thick you were particularly proud of finishing it? Say, Moby-Dick, or Crime and Punishment. Maybe War and Peace?
Last summer I set myself the task of reading all four volumes of Robert Caro’s projected five-volume life of Lyndon Johnson, some 3,000 pages so far. The fourth book was so hefty it was difficult to balance on my stomach as I read. (I like to read lying down.) Here’s a photo I took while reading by the pool.
Most of the time now I read books on an iPad (again, lying down), which is altogether a more convenient method. No wrestling with a hefty tome, no turning pages, no, well, paper. But when I’m done there’s no book to close and put on a shelf. There’s no monument to the work I put into reading.
I have a library at home, a room devoted to showing off my reading. Here’s one wall:
The iPad I now prefer has me questioning the point of all that paper stuffed on shelves and taking up space. Really, aren’t private libraries more boasting than indexing? I can’t even take the time to organize my books. When I want something I have to scan the shelves. If I want to go back to a book on the iPad I can search electronically, effortlessly.
Still, I have a sentimental attachment to the big book, which is why I bought hard copies of Caro’s magisterial work. But it sure was a hassle lugging those volumes around.