So, let’s play a game. When I say fetish, you say…
Probably. Or possible not, but for the sake of argument, let’s assume you say, SEX!! Most people, including myself, do. After all, in Western popular culture, fetish really does = sex.
And why not? There are plenty of fabulous sexual fetishes out there – feet, hands, pain, exhibitionism, voyeurism.. hell, there’s even an eyeball-licking fetish.
But not all fetishes are strictly sexual. In fact, traditionally speaking, (and by traditional I mean dating back to the early 17th century), fetishes were spiritual in nature, and were almost always objects worshipped for their supposed magical powers. If you go by the original meaning, anything from a voodoo doll to a saint’s relic is a fetish – an object used or revered for it’s spiritual power.
This made me realize something. I have a book fetish – a serious, committed, barely-restrained book fetish.
It isn’t that I literally worship books because I think they’re literally magical. It’s more that, for me, books have an inherent value and, because of that, they are the locus of my compulsion to acquire new things. In other words, some people have shoes, other people have exes, and I have books.
Since I was old enough to buy my first Nancy Drew with my very own money, I have surrounded myself with books. I buy, borrow, give, and receive books with a pure, transactional joy that should be acquisitive but isn’t. Really, I just love books. I love stacking them, collecting them, rearranging and classifying them. I love holding them and writing in their margins, and of course, I love reading them. The book, as an object, is comforting to me. It doesn’t matter if I’ve read it five times or never heard of it, books are totems. They are, quite literally, a mental escape hatch, and in that way they are an incredibly significant part of my personal growth.
I can trace my development as a person back through my reading material, from Laura Ingall Wilder’s Little House books to A.S. Byatt, Dorothy Parker and Anais Nin. Each phase in my reading reflects an emotional phase in my life, and the books that I read during those phases are, in essence, relics of the person I was. My books are a map of my past, and an indicator of future interests and selves. So yes, I have a old-fashioned fetish. I attach spiritual significance to books. I will never read every book I own, and I will never own enough… That doesn’t mean I’m not going to try.
6 thoughts on “Books, or My Fetish”
SEX!!! Oops I mean I love books too. (No really total compulsive obsessive)
Ha! Me too 😉
i love how you connect the books to phases in your life like music, and of course we will never read everything we have–having them is the comfort…
Yes! Exactly! Having them *is* the comfort. It’s one of those things that makes no sense, unless it absolutely does 🙂
I like that you bring out the other meaning of fetish. 🙂 Books are damn sexy in their own right, and I was smiling about some of your choices over time. We have had a very similar reading list. I saw a poster the other day that I adore. It says: “I have this weird obsession about buying books, and looking at them with a smile, even if I won’t read them soon. At least they are mine now.:”
Sounds like that fits us both.
That pretty much hits the nail right on the head! 🙂