Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Coffee and Bats

After doing some deep soul searching, I suspect I collect more than just a singular odd shelf - my books tend to be, like my music, erratic and spontaneous explosions of subjects that I've become interested in or whimsically looked into. I have an affinity for coffee table books in particular, with their glorious pictures and enormous sizes. They don't sit on a shelf well because they are meant to spread out and take up space, sprawling and beautiful just because they can. Coffee table books are the Beverly Hills of books. I see them as gifts from the absentee host, to his neighbors and friends as they sit in his living room waiting his return; the savior of awkward conversations or parties turned terribly dull. I don't know why I love them, but I do.

Despite that, I haven't a living room, nor a coffee table. They sit in the closet, on their own tall odd shelf, waiting for me to acquire the space to show them off as they deserve.

In truth though, the strangest collection of books I have, perhaps a little more closely tied to some of Anne Fadiman's examples, are my Batman books. Maybe its not that odd if you know me (and the two of you do; one has even been to a couple Batman murder mysteries written by the one and only). Okay, I'll admit it, I have a love affair with Batman. He's the a fascinating hero who has culminated thousands of pages and adventures since his birth. His dual nature is an intriguing character study - the philanthropic playboy vs. the tragedy-stricken man fighting for moral high ground in a dark, savage and criminal way. There is passion and the complex roguery; like the dichotomy between his arch-nemesis, the Joker, in their eternal struggle of between chaos and the Batman's quest for order in a dark and violent world. He is the acting agent in the face of helplessness, yet not exactly a soldier of light. Frankly, he represents a whole lotta grays in a world that wishes it were black and white, but doesn't have the luxury. And consequently, I've collected several limited and key-to-the-mythos graphic novel editions, novel adaptations (oft-times horrible), art books dedicated to the Dark Knight, and even guides to the animated series, and the comic world. Could be I want to be Batman. Could be. But regardless, he's taken up a good chunk of shelf space in my collection.

Yeah, I'm gonna go ahead and say that's probably my odd shelf.

How about yours?

Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader
"My Odd Shelf"


Jennie said...

I don't think you can call your Batman books your odd shelf any more than I can call my Orson Scott Card obsession my odd shelf, Peter. ;)

As I mentioned before, I won't have my book until tomorrow, but as far as my odd shelf goes...The Princess Diaries books look pretty out of place sitting there in their hot pink covers. They're a guilty pleasure of mine (brought on by Lisa, of course :) ). I don't know, I'll have to think about this some more.

Jennie said...

Now that I've actually read the essay you're referring to, I suppose your Batman books qualify. ;)

As for me, I stared at my books for quite some time and came to the conclusion that I am sadly lacking an Odd Shelf. Clearly, I need a new and exotic hobby/interest.