I love the books, always have. When I was growing up we had a lot of books in the house. I don’t have any form of electronic-book-reader-thingymabob. I do enjoy the feel of paper in my hands. I like giving thoughtful books as gifts, I like displaying them in my home, and I like passing them on after I have read them. However, I am not too precious about them. If a book gets ruined, I am pretty easy about throwing it away or recycling it.
I did an exercise in privilege at one point where everyone in the room starts out in a line and you take a step forward each time a statement applies to you. It goes like this:
If your father went to college, take a step forward.
If your father finished college
If your mother went to college
If your mother finished college…
If you had more than 50 books at home
If you had more than 500 books at home…
That was the first time I thought about books as an indicator of privilege. We had way more than 500 books (especially if you count children’s books), but does it matter if they just stay on the shelf? My dad has a complete set of “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” bound in red leather with gold embossing, the volumes look really nice on a shelf. The pages are so thin you can see through them, and they were never read. Most of our books were just decorative. The power of books is in the transmission of ideas, not in gathering dust.
These sculptures by Guy Laramée are carved from outdated and unusable books. Old encyclopedias and outdated tax code are not useful to anyone. The words that no one wants to read anymore are transformed into landscapes. Making the useless into something beautiful is one of my favorite things.
All photos from Guy Laramée’s website.