In nearly two years of blogging on this site you’re probably noticed I haven’t done many book reviews. In some regards that’s sort of a shame because I absolutely love a good outdoors book…especially a how-to book that focuses on some special kind of outdoor activity. A fine example would be books such as Snares and Snaring by Raymond Thompson or Comfort Below Freezing by Robert McQuilkin. Neither book exemplifies Pulitzer Prize quality of writing by the authors, nevertheless each book serves as a tremendous resource on the respective outdoor topic being covered.
Much to my wife’s chagrin I’ve been a collector of outdoor books for over 25 years. As I recall my collection first started with purchasing a host of trapping related books. Followed by fishing books…hunting books…you name it, if it’s an outdoor subject I very likely have a book that covers it to some degree. And that’s where the problem begins for my wife. She understands there are many books I must own for reference. She’s a registered nurse and even has her own small library of medical books that she occasionally consults. But she fails to see my need for books on the wide variety of topics I own.
The problem is my entire library of books has been in storage for about 15 months while we built a new house last year. It wasn’t until this weekend that I decided it was time to do the big move back into the new house and to set up the necessary book shelves once again. Her contention is…if you haven’t used any of those books for over a year…what makes me think I will have any future need for them. This argument is further bolstered by the fact she knows I now do a lot of topical research on the Internet.
Therein lies the problem. Indeed, the Internet is a quick and handy source to look up almost any topic quickly…but is it always a safe way to do things? Granted, information contained in a book can be bogus just as easily as if it’s found on the Internet…but I tend to feel that what gets printed in a book, generally speaking, has more credibility than what is commonly found on the Internet. Now I realize that is not always true, but you still need to be careful no matter what your primary source might be.
You see, my wife is having a dreaded garage sale next weekend so everything she looks at these days (especially if it’s an item I brought into this marriage) appears to her to be good “junk” for the sale. To me, my 300+ outdoor book collection is a prized and closely coveted part of my outdoor life I am not feeling the need to part with anytime soon. She’s trying her best to make me understand I should feel differently. The battle goes on.
Okay, I’ll admit there are a lot of books I have read and will likely never read again. Heck, I might not ever crack them open again if the right situation doesn’t arise. But as a sportsman who occasionally must double-check a fact…owning my very own outdoor library gives me a certain peace of mind. I can almost guarantee you that if I drove to any public library within 25 miles of my house I could not find an outdoors (hunting and fishing) section as complete as the one I have on display here in my home. That’s not bragging…rather, just stating the situation as I believe it to occur.
These days I’m not so sure that most sportsmen value book ownership quite the same way folks used to view them a few decades ago. Certainly my wife is right…if you want to learn a bit more on a topic—such as snipe hunting, for instance—many people will start off with a Google search. And why not! I might be tempted to do it too. Using a computer attached to the World Wide Web is quick and often very thorough tool to get work done. You might even read about someone’s encounter that will give you an idea for a unique slant on a story.
Even so…as I debated with my wife I explained to her that the books I own are no way obsolete because of my computer. In fact, many are probably collector material that you certainly would not want to mass liquidate at some garage sale. I’m not sure…but I think she’s slowly realizing there are two things of mine you don’t touch in this household. The first one would be my guns (she wouldn’t touch them anyway) and now my book collection (which she would rather see in a dumpster than displayed on several nice oak bookcases).
For many years I slowly accumulated my collection of books without ever giving much thought that they would someday undergo such intense scrutiny. And don’t get me wrong…I completely understand now that we have a new house we must carefully choose what items we plan to display and store in our new digs. It’s just that today when my collection of books were de-valued in my wife’s mind it gave me pause to do some introspection if possibly she could be right. Do I continue to own all these books because I really need them? Or do I continue to hold on to them because it’s a habit I’ve developed now for over 25 years running?
That’s when I decided to question her on whether she really needed those Pfaltzgraft dishes she owns. In the nearly five years that I’ve known her we’ve never eaten off them. Worse yet, they were purchased in connection with her first marriage so any sentimental value they should have for her should be highly questionable.
Yea, I realized the counter-tactic was a dangerous maneuver…like walking through a proverbial minefield where one must tread very carefully. But so far it has worked…she’s now spent the day focusing more on her own belongings rather than casting a sinister eye with evil intent toward discarding my precious outdoor books. Again, let’s just be thankful she doesn’t read these blog posts very often.
© 2006 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction Without Prior Permission.
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