They walk among us

Yesterday the removal men emptied my old house and brought all the contents to the new.  This included many bags full of books.  My library is not that large, and most of it is novels.  For I usually prefer to have scholarly materials in PDF form.

On seeing the shelves set up to receive them, one of the men said, rather than asked, “You haven’t read all these books, have you.”

I told him that indeed I had, and more than once.  I do not keep books that I will never read again.

He said nothing, but disbelief emanated from him.  Later I heard one of his workmates ask him if he had ever read a book, and he freely admitted that he never had.

So much that we take for granted is not true.  We live, surrounded by a vast number of people for whom the life of the mind is not merely something that they do not participate in, but it is something that they do not even believe in, or believe that anybody else does.  It’s just a way of showing off, or something.

Such people are very many in number, and probably the overwhelming majority of those whom we meet in life.

Are we perhaps the aliens, then?


15 thoughts on “They walk among us

  1. Novels? At least the classics (Moby Dick, etc)? I’m actually in the process of trying to catalog my humble library…something that I’m beginning to regret. Too many.

  2. My treasures are sentimentally stored – books of my childhood – not only school books but even fairy tales – also my Agatha Christie paperbacks – and of course a librbary shelf dedicated to assorted dictionaries that are the truly nesessary items for my work, inasmuch as they contain historical info that is no longer found on the internet. As regards those who walk among us, my late but very dear neighbour kept asking me how I dont suffocate with all those books that crowded my room. My reply was always “These books are innumerable horizons that allow me to travel wherever and whenever I want.”

  3. I’m not sure how I got sent this in my Twitter feed this morning, other than a brief working acquaintance with Roger – but I am not a follower.
    There’s an undertone of arrogance here that I feel impelled to respond to. Whilst those of us who have been through the sausage factory might all too easily look down upon ‘the illiterate’, it is a mistake to equate a lack of reading with no participation in ‘the life of the mind’. Other avenues are open to exploration to those for whom reading is not the be all and end all – music, art, theatre, and film to name just a few. Someone who doesn’t read is missing out on valuable inputs but it doesn’t automatically mean there is no life in their mind. Nor does it follow that someone who reads automatically has life in their mind.
    Furthermore, there are realms other than that of the intellect – the physical, the spiritual, the emotional. The world is a multi-faceted thing – don’t restrict your experiences to just what can be gained from the vicarious consumption of books.

  4. There is indeed a risk of “not like us”. There are many more of them. Is it us, or them, who are the aliens?

    The idea that the better educated – or book-learned – are better people need only be stated to be refuted, I think.

  5. K, on one side, I admire you’ve actually read all the books you own.

    I have a TBR stack.

    On the other… oh that poor man.

  6. 1. Reading or not reading has nothing to do with “class” or “worthiness.” It’s mostly about whether people got an education that emphasized reading as being fun and interesting, not just a grind. Too many schools make kids vow never to read anything, which cuts them off from reading for pleasure.

    2. Audiobooks have opened up the world of reading to a lot of people, but not to everyone.

  7. 3. The previous few centuries catered to a public where almost everyone learned to read, and enjoyed reading, either alone or as a family. The twentieth century reversed that in some places, and we’re still dealing with that.

  8. I find a TBR pile stressful, so I don’t. I also get rid of books I’ll never read again, because I found my house became a wall of books that I didn’t want to read, with a few that I did hidden within them.

  9. I know what you mean, but some people will take what you’ve said out of context.

  10. The house is fine, with only minor niggles. The landlord’s people have fixed things quickly.

    I’ve not been able to unpack much yet. There has been a whole series of domestic disasters, major and minor. I won’t list them here, but it’s a little extraordinary. Everything possible happening at once. The way things are going, if I step outside and a piano falls out of a passing aircraft and hits me, that wouldn’t raise an eyebrow! Beyond a certain point you have to chuckle at the absurdity, be phlegmatic and deal with each day as it comes.

    Yesterday I managed to get a venetian blind up in the west-facing lounge, which makes it far more habitable in hot sun. Today I am attempting to adjust the garden gate, which sticks. At some point I need to assemble a wardrobe. It has a 26-panel set of instructions. These are my days.

    The house was “professionally cleaned”, which I am told cost the last tenant’s family hundreds of pounds. But the “cleaners” left much to do. Thankfully my cleaning lady is beginning to have an effect.

    So… no blogging for a bit.

Leave a Reply