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What's on Your Bookshelf?

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Do people even read paper books and magazines anymore? Obviously enough are to keep paper publications alive, but for how long? Paper is good. It's easy on the eyes, portable, easy to hold, and requires no power to read. It can't be infected with DRM, and the vendor cannot flip a remote kill switch and make it unreadable...
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I'm doing some major remodeling to my house and property. I'm tearing down walls and planning an addition, so it seems my gypsy wanderings are at an end and I'm putting down roots. I have five acres to play with, and ever since I got rid of the horses I have all kinds of new options because I don't have to horse-proof everything. When you have horses you need stout fences, and must plant anything that you want to live well out of the reach of long horse necks and sharp hooves. It's liberating, and anytime I want to ride there are lots of lazy neighbor horses in need of a workout. It's the best of all worlds.

It also means I don't need to maintain boring featureless pastures, so I'm tearing down fences and planning a lot of landscaping- trees of all kinds, flowers, walking paths, water thingies-- I have years of fun ahead. So I'm watching home shows on TV and reading books and magazine for inspiration.

An interesting thing about the home shows is how often interior designers have little use for functionality- it's all about some kind of visual appeal that does not appeal to me. There are always individual elements that I like, but overall it's like they're designing for magazine covers. Or TV shows :). Tables are covered with gigantic wads of flowers and candles and weird vases full of glass marbles or sand. Where do people put their feet, or their books and magazines, or their drinks and treats? They're not going to be very comfortable reading anyway, because there is only feeble ambience lighting, and no proper reading lamps.

Do people even read paper books and magazines anymore? Obviously enough are to keep paper publications alive, but for how long? Paper is good. It's easy on the eyes, portable, easy to hold, and requires no power to read. It can't be infected with DRM, and the vendor cannot flip a remote kill switch and make it unreadable. In fact once that book or magazine is in my hands the vendor is helpless to control what I do with it- I can loan it to friends, cut it up with scissors, use it to prop up a chair, tear out pages to make paper whistles to amuse toddlers, make origami Tux penguins, cut out words to make ransom notes, curl it up into a tight cylinder and poke people's eyes out, do arson- if the knowledge on the pages isn't subversive and dangerous enough, there are many other subversive and outright criminal deeds I can commit with it. It's a wonder it isn't outlawed for the sake of the children, national security, and moral purity.

But I digress. Another thing I notice on the home shows is NO BOOKS. It's shocking. If they even have bookshelves, they're loaded down with twee trinkets. How can you call it a home with no books? I'm medium-selective with the books I keep- I weed out a fair number, but I keep a lot of them because someday I'll want to read them again, and I have this lurking paranoia that someday somebody will try to take them all away. I have all kinds of fiction, and almost as much non-fiction, and of course lots of computer books. I love computer books. When everything is fried and there is no Internet, books to the rescue.

A lot of my geek friends like Terry Pratchett. I just can't get in the Pratchett groove. Maybe I'm too old. I like geology, because out here in the sticks I'm tripping over it, and natural history, and when I'm tired murder mysteries are easy on the brain and relaxing. But not just any murder mysteries- the old-style murder mysteries that set up a cardboard victim just to advance the plot don't appeal to me. That seems cold and callous. If a story is going to have violence as a plot element, it better be violence with consequences.

So what's on your shelves? Do you read for fun? What do you like to read?


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