I read a lot. I’m going to be writing a review of things I’ve read soon. But, there’s one thing I generally don’t do. I don’t collect books. The artifact is just an artifact. It is not the story, merely a vessel that carries it.
Except, I do collect books.
It says a lot about me, I think, that I quietly desire and seek out first-edition hardbacks of Maureen McHugh works. I don’t need them signed. I don’t care about that. I just think that Maureen McHugh’s work is amazing on every level, and I quietly seek it out. I’ve only met the woman in passing, and I doubt we’d have much to talk about in life. But, I do think her novels are breathtaking. And, as I am able, I seek out the first editions in hardback.
I have a few precious artifacts. A Samizdat edition of “Finch”, some worn-in artifacts from used book stores that are as fascinating to me because of the marginalia as for the books themselves, and a German copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales with amazing art that my sister bought me, once.
Being a collector of things is not my way. I do not look at anything owned as anything but a passing fancy. But, sometimes the passing fancy is a small part I play to carry things forward in time, that the artifact retains itself against history.
As much as collecting is not a calling for me, I still feel called to do a little, and to be balanced about things. I try to keep my scope narrow.
Do you collect? Shouldn’t you? A whole career from a great living artist could fit on a single shelf. Pick one. Pick two. We are all a little responsible for what people say about books in the future. Keeping a few good, quality artifacts around in good condition, even if only to be donated someday or sold in an estate sale after our time has passed, well – it helps. It’s such a small thing to do, as long as you don’t go overboard about collecting.
Also, collect slowly. I have yet to complete my little collection, and I’ll get back to it as funds come around. Newlyweds need to save money. We are planning things together. So, no first editions, for now.
There’s plenty of time when the scope of the collection is so small.