I have enjoyed reading the Slate “Normal” series. Perhaps the virtue of aging is that you realize that you are relieved to be normal. I don’t crave differentiation as validation any more. I know my own failings: a predilection to overthinking everything, an embarrassing sort of earnestness and a hopeless love of shoes and lipstick that ill becomes a feminist. Middle age brings a desire for conformity, the endless comfort of knowing that your aches and worries and woes are the unimpeachable evidence of a undistinguished life. Middle age teaches that exceptionalism in all things is just exhausting.
This week (or maybe last?) was a post about displaying books. I am amused, the Mr. and I have a 10 foot high and 12 foot wide custom built book case in our dinning room. There are books in the basement, there are books in my den, a stack on the floor by my bed and a bookshelf in my office. My books in the dinning room are organized at least a bit artfully. The books in my den are shoved in to maximize space and let’s just not talk about my office bookcase. I’m not sure that having that many business and academic books isn’t a walking cliche.
The end of the article talks about the to be read (tbr) pile, more specifically the aspirational TBR pile that apparently some folk instagram. I carefully consulted instagram and I continue to see photo’s of cats and children and food and knitting and pumpkins. Apparently no one I know is cool enough to have an aspirational reading list. Possibly my TBR pile is exceptional.
I have a stack of books. I buy more than I read these days. These days of middle age – I read for 5 minutes before I fall asleep. I’m still reading through four year’s worth of books I bought in airports across the continent. I’m still reading through the books I bought second hand when I took the new job last year (I thought I was going to have all the time to read). I’ve bought books since then. There was a united way book sale and I had to buy books, it was for charity.
I find books, or at least being in their company, comforting. I know that my aunts will read this post (Hi Aunt Deb, Hi Aunt Robin) and they will laugh because they too have piles of books. My mother died with books unread (They are now in my to be read pile. Towards the bottom. I’m not that deeply invested.)
I’ll keep my TBR pile. It’s nothing special. I’m glad Slate agreed that it’s normal to have books you haven’t read.