You know, I used to love having a massive library. I had thousands of paperbacks, and even more hardcovers in my apartment. Since I was in the literary interview gig, all publishers sent me review copies, so I was getting ten to fifteen titles a week, and just adding them to the pile. I loved it. I would look around in contentment, and imagine shelves on every wall, with books arranged from floor to ceiling.
But my wife most certainly did not look around with contentment. Where I saw names, and unique dust jackets, she saw dust, and towering piles of objects that could very well be lethal to a curious, energetic infant or toddler.
I thought long and hard about it, and realized that after I had read a book, it would just sit there, forever more. I didn't reread books, because I like to move on to something new. Those books were not priceless treasures, well used and well loved, or objets d'art to be admired, they were simply fetishes.
It took me about a week to haul box after box to my car and over to the library. I'd decided that those books, just sitting around my place, would only ever sit there, shifted about from time to time, but unused and still. Better, I thought, would be to allow others a chance to have them and use them and benefit by them as I had.
So for people like me, this is where the Kindle fills a deep, desperate need. In the past I had always collected stuff, like a pack rat, and never let anything go. One day I realized...I was a prisoner of my stuff! It was like this Zen realization that I had this great psychic pressure on me emanating from all the stuff I owned. Stuff I carted from place to place, stuff I said I might use one day and never did. So I started a radical de-stuffization of my premises. I filled the downstairs lobby with all this stuff and even put a "free stuff" sign. The landlord and I even had an argument about it; he telling me to clean it up, me practicing my sign language and stomping back upstairs.
An hour later everything was gone, and I had never felt better.
Still, I like to read. I like to read a lot. On my laptop, my Google Reader will bring in an average of 600 to 700 articles a day, sometimes up to 1000 a day, and I will scroll through them and read about a third on a good day. Plus I will dip into a novel, read a magazine article, read emails, etc. But on the go a laptop is cumbersome, and power hungry. A Kindle, however, is not. In fact, I could read all my stuff, switch between novels and magazines, and have access to a massive library all in one tiny book sized gadget.
With a Kindle, I can have my library and read it too.
And the best part is, the tyranny of stuff has no hold on me any more!
Now all I need to do is get my hand son one of those things...