I'm in the discomforting position of having the great majority of my books in storage, hidden in boxes, accessible in theory but opaque to my immediate view. I find myself unmoored, unsure of where I've been and where I'm going. Mike Jones write about his own collections:
“...in recent years I have moved so regularly and am so perpetually short of shelf space that I never seem to get them into any order.
Regardless, I know what’s there and why. In and between them all – even the bad ones – I see stories and memories, narratives and connections, hidden delights and buried sorrows.”
A well-thumbed book is easier to decode than a braid of browser histories, split between devices and applications and operating systems: our flirtations with different philosophies, our passing interests and intellectual crushes are lost from view. Now Twitter and Facebook and Tumblr and Reddit and Hacker News and Metafilter and Boingboing and Audible and Kindle conspire to disappear what we read.
An old person, their senses dwindling, dwindles all the quicker when taken out of their homes, away from the familiar accretions of a life. Our habitual surroundings provide context, confirmation of who we are. What does this unpapered, unremembered reading do to us? Can we find ways to archive our own experiences, to help us understand how we've become ourselves?
Time to plaster the walls and put up the shelves and unpack my boxes of books.