My rather ambiguous title for this post was deliberate. I love printed books - even the cheap sort where the pages fall out when first opened. But I love eBooks now too, a kind of sister wives' scenario with reading. I don't love the format most eBooks use - a bland font and no 'feel' to the book. Yet the iPhone, the iPad, the laptop and desktop computers produced by Apple have a designed beauty and tactility of their own. Where I can alter the font, or change colours in what I am reading I find a new delight in the sensuality of reading. Reading is for me, even when mining histories written in the pretence of social science, sensual. I am presently re-reading Charles Taylor's 'A Secular Age' and I noticed how I enjoyed the semi-smooth, semi-rough feel of the paper of each page under my finger tips. This got me to thinking on a tangent. Which of my hundreds (thousands?) of books would I keep if I had room only for a handful?
Well, firstly I will discount my father's books I have - they are not great literature but have an emotional resonance separate from their place in life as books. I will only consider those I, singularly, read and purchased and own currently.
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien - the hard back copies with the full maps - I have pocket book versions but they would go.
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien - I have only two pocket book versions, so I would keep the authorized Ballantine copy.
The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris ( a pocket book because by this point in my life I could no longer afford the luxury of hardcover books, but her prose is sensual. She is a poet and this is prose as only a poet could write).
Lament for a Nation by George Grant (pocket book, 1963 - again this book opened my mind to thinking philosophically about, well, everything.)
A Political and Cultural History of Europe by Carlton J.H. Hayes (two volumes, hardcover, 1939. This is the first, or at least one of the first histories that presented not just political history, but cultural integrated into the narrative. Hayes wrote in a way all historians should be taught - clearly yet with style.)
Ways of the Christian Mystics by Thomas Merton (this one not only for the clarity of his mystical thought - now there's an oxymoron worth meditation - but because it is in a Shambhala Pocket Classic edition - a true pocket book but using red and black prints and internal borders in the text)
I will stop here.