Sunday, May 24, 2020

The Mirror: Shelf-righteousness

I imagine it came with a book which was gifted to me; most likely from my mum. She often buys interesting books for me and they occasionally come with a bookmark from the store where the purchase was made. This particular bookmark has a list of words on it; book related words. Shelf-righteous* is one of them. Perhaps you thought I was either inventing a word or had accidentally added an 'h'. Not so.

I don't want to boast, especially as I just read Jeremiah 9:23, 24, but I do feel like I have a pretty special collection of books. I suppose many readers feel the same way, so why, I hear you say, do I claim to have a better collection than others? Why am I making such a shelf righteous declaration? And how is my feeling of superiority about my personal library a mirror?

I'll deal with the latter first. What a person reads is a reflection of the person. We normally chose to read books which are 'our cup of tea', so our literary tastes say something about us. I'm being shelf righteousness because I reckon my collection is pretty impressive even though it's small...very small, in fact. I don't usually keep books as I haven't had anywhere to keep them for some time now. Books come and go.

What's so good about my small collection? It's eclectic. At the moment, I'm reading a futuristic action thriller, a Discworld fantasy, and book about a neurosurgeon who was in a coma for a week and now believes in the existence of the 'soul.' Prior to that I read Enid Blyton's Secret Seven, Eric Weiner's The Geography of Bliss and a time travel, body jumping mystery called The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. Also in my library are many classics. Books by unknowns and books by very well-knowns. Books about all sorts of subjects, set in all sorts of places with all sorts of genres, styles, and themes. Truth be told though, it's not better or worse than other one else's library.

I was recently ask why I read books. It's a good question which I think boils down to three things: education, entertainment and inspiration. For example when I saw Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander sitting on shelf and I read the subtitle: "a neurosurgeon's journey into the afterlife," I had to grab it. And the following quote from page 9 sealed it: "My experience showed me that the death of the body and the brain are not the end of consciousness, that human experience continues beyond the grave. More important, it continues under the gaze of a God who cares..." Clearly, this book will educate, entertain and inspire me.

I'm going to finish with one of my favourite quotes about reading, but before that I want to share a snippet from a book I recently read...for the second time. The subtitle of Eric Weiner's The Geography of Bliss is "the grumpiest man on the planet goes in search of the happiest place in the world." Here is a tiny sample of Weiner's philosophical conclusion. "Money matters, but less than we think and not in the way we think. Family is important. So are friends. Envy is toxic. So is excessive thinking. Beaches are optional. Trust is not. Neither is gratitude."

I'm not well at the time of writing this blog. I have the dreaded man flu of which I have previously written. (Exactly four years ago as it turns out) Energy and inspiration are low, but books are helping me through by assisting the passage of time while I rest (I'm not a fan of too much rest) and by providing the topic and many of the words for this post.

"The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read." (Anon)

*Shelf-righteous: the feeling of superiority about one's bookshelf

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