Underground New York Public Library is probably my favorite thing about the Internet so far this year. What a terrific project. Not only are there titles and sometimes surprising combinations of title and reader, but it’s those small expressions, the private little smiles or looks of concentration or bewildered sadness at the page. And then there are the people who are reading books I’ve read and some I’ve loved, and I want to shout at them through the screen: “HOW DID YOU LIKE IT? IT WAS GOOD, RIGHT?”
Like this girl, who looks about thirteen and is reading “Slaughterhouse-Five,” my favorite book in the world*, and maybe for the first time:
It’s the same cover as my copy, too. Kind of. Mine is taped (both scotch and masking) and creased and basically well- and much-loved, but the design is the same, and I like it because it’s the format that came before the Vonnegut doodles, which are fine on their own but I like the deco kind of boldness of the V covers.
Also there are photos of people reading Ayn Rand, and because I like making sweeping generalizations about people, I know that they are the most pretentious assholes and I hope they drop their copies in the gap.
I’ve definitely bought more books on my Kindle than I have in hard copy over the past two years, which is hard to appreciate when I look over the UNYPL site but really, it’s extremely convenient, it means less stuff to pack up and move in the fall, and I read about the same amount as I did before. I have noticed that I read less fiction now that I have a Kindle, though, and of the fiction I do read, most are collections of short stories or essays or, sadly, goes unfinished. I get to the remaining 1/6 or 1/8 of the book and have tired of the story. I know this is because I don’t have the actual book in my hand and can’t quantify the portion that’s left, and perhaps this means I’ll have to stick to hard copy fiction and digital everything else.
Another unfortunate result of having a Kindle is that I don’t keep track of what I’ve read like I used to. Or maybe that’s more of a result of the No New Books Resolution, and because I’m lazy, I never started keeping track again after that year. Perhaps this is something I should start again in 2013. I’ll be moved by then with a job and Seattle has an IKEA, which means I can finally get an Expedit and stop hoarding books in boxes in the basement just because they won’t fit on my shelves. And then Graham can put his books out, too, because we’re both readers and this is how we will die, buried by our books and the smell will be stifled by the pages.