A reader pointed me at a site called This Into That, a gallery of a furniture designer whose work consists of books stuck together to form furniture. “I wish he was affordable,” the reader told me.
I found it repulsive. I know, it’s a way of making use of old books, but as I told the reader in IM, this poked directly at my upbringing. I am (on one side) first-generation American – my mom emigrated from Italy in 1930 – and on the other, poor working-class. Books were sacred in the house I grew up in. My Aunt Val objected to books being placed on the floor; she was an elementary school teacher and used to say, “Books are our friends.” Sappy, I know.
It reminded me of wealthy folks who select fine books for their color or binding, so they can have them glued into place on shelves for the visual effect. They’ve stopped being books then, which kind of flies in the face of their whole purpose. When I visited the Adams house in Quincy, Massachusetts, part of the tour my daughter and I took was to see the library – a separate, fireproof building filled with the books that the Adams family prized. The only problem was that most of them are fragile now and can’t be touched or looked at. What a shame. I would have liked to look at them – not as objects, but as windows into the knowledge that John Quincy Adams and his family loved to acquire.
I love books. Always have. It’s part of my upbringing – both parents were readers. Reading leads to writing; that leads to more reading. Making books into inanimate objects such as chairs and shelves bothers me. I bear no ill will to Mr. Jim Rosenau and wish him the best of luck, but none of his work will come to my house even if I can afford it.