Have you ever stopped to think about the word ‘book’? It’s one of those words that has an interesting spread of meaning. We read a book. We book tickets. Police book you. You can have the book thrown at you. You can be bookish.
I’ve always liked the idea of the police booking people because it makes me picture people being pressed between the pages of a giant book! But that’s just me.
The word for book in many languages comes from words for bark or other plant matter written on, which makes perfect sense. What’s more interesting is that the other meanings in English (except bookish) related to the act of recording/listing things in a book, whether that is a patron’s seat number or the charges against you.
I’m still picturing human pressed flowers though.
A few weeks back I had to move all the furniture in my lounge room and this led me to deciding I might as well rearrange it as I put it back. The biggest part of this was moving the bookcase and – naturally – all the books.
I have a lot of books on the shelves that I rarely read. Particularly books I’ve kept from when I was a kid. This includes what you’d expect in fiction for young readers, but it also includes poetry. Lots of poetry.
From when I was about 9 I frequented a second hand bookshop which had a great selection of poetry and, with my meager pocket money, I started a small and eclectic collection. I should say, I’d already had a love of rhyme and so had quite a few books of ‘childrens’ verse’, but this shop allowed me to expand into other areas. I kept buying poetry there until I was well into my 20s.
The thing is; I stopped reading (and writing) poetry in my late 20s. This means I’ve had all these poetry books on my shelves for a long time just collecting dust. In fact the only one I still regularly read is a volume I stole from my dad! It feeds my addiction to John Donne, Lord Byron and Christina Rossetti. Less often I break out my dedicated books of Blake or Donne and, likewise, books of Henry Lawson and Banjo Patterson for an Australian fix.
I suspect those will be the last poetry books to suffer being culled, but every time I do a rearrangement a few more go to the charity shop.
I wonder how these figures will shift over time…