a place for the curious

Tag: bibelots in the wild

Who owns this book?

A question about unread books was posted on twitter today. It gave me pause for thought:

There’s little doubt that this question has more to do with hoarding than reading, but for me it soon became a question about ownership.

Wisely, Octavia (@ReadSleepRepeat) was careful to include e-books. If she’d just said ‘books’, I could have cheated by trying to interpret that as ‘paper books’, before walking around my house counting a few dozen unread books*.

Thinking of all my copyright-free e-books, I asked Octavia whether her query was also about books you get for free — the answer was a resounding yes.


With that answer my slightly-smug feeling of  ‘I don’t have too many unread books’ started draining away.

library, black and white photo

Books, beautiful books
National Library of Norway

Here’s my problem. When I’m bored I’ll trawl through places like Project Gutenberg or the Internet Archive, searching for things that sound curious, intriguing or, at least, eminently readable. There are now hundreds and hundreds of tiny, little book bibelots, stored on my kindle and computer, waiting my possible perusal or swift reference.

Do I own these books? Of course not. Not in any financial sense. Do the ones I love belong to me as much as any book I’ve paid money for? I guess the answer has to be yes.

The question then becomes one of whether these great hoards of digital books can be counted. And to that I can say a resounding ‘not in this lifetime’. It’s just not possible. While I’m at it I might as well try and count all the pages on the internet. These books keep going out of copyright, getting uploaded and being downloaded.

It’s around about now that it all gets a little philosophical. Just who owns what anyway?

Octavia’s question was a good one as it got me to thinking. A wonderful outcome on any day. But, ultimately, it’s just not the question I want to answer. Ask me this:

What’s still out there that you haven’t yet managed to read?

The answer is, of course, everything. I can’t ever own all of it, but it’s all there. And, so, here I am. With the universe and everything in it still left to read.


* Is it just me or does the phrase ‘unread books’ conjure up images of story-less books roaming the midnight streets looking for words to devour. … No? Just me, then?

Life’s little mysteries

an empty frame for glasses sitting on the footpathSome pictures tell a thousand words.

Some of them just raise questions.

Sometimes you just need to accept that life is full of intrigue.

I found these glasses recently. I didn’t take them home.

I stared at them for a little while. They stared straight back at me.

I asked them if they needed help. They seemed to say ‘please leave us be’.

I left them where them I found them.

Alone and cloaked in mystery.

Bibelots in the wild: postcards

This is the first post in an ongoing series on bibelots in the wild.

A quick happy snap of postcards pinned to a menu boardI have a story to tell. It starts here.

Or, perhaps, it starts over there. You know the place. Sure you do. It’s one of your favourite hangouts. They know you by name and know what you like, but they also know you like to surprise them occasionally.

Ringing any bells?

Of course, this place, mine or yours, could be many places. But not any place.  Any place might be a nameless multinational.  No, that’s not this place. This place has quirks.  It has some things not quite right and some things unexpected, but delightful.

This particular place is in a marketplace.  They have a wall covered with bibelots, or curios if you prefer.

They reside, unconsidered, in one corner of the cafe.  They aren’t important and it’s nothing to write home about, but, and here’s the thing, they include things that you can write home on.

A bibelot can be just about anything, but I feel sure that a postcard is almost always, once written, a bibelot for life.

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