Friday, May 27, 2016

Too many books?

This was the scene at the Vancouver Public Library's Book Sale. Because I was already downtown, I dared to stop in -- but only to take a snapshot of the scene.

Considering the number of books that share space in this house, I knew I didn't dare go down the stairs, as surely I would have found a few more 'treasures' for my already-overcrowded shelves.

Because I was pretty sure there's some famous quote about not being able to have 'too many books', I googled the phrase. Sure enough, I came up with too many answers.

The most authoritative -- or at least earliest -- seems to be from Rudyard Kipling. But his adds more than books to the list, claiming both red wine and ammunition as must-have items. I can only hope he didn't mean an excess of those two in combination.

The most famous one, and likely the most hideous, is one I'd expected to be attributed to Dorothy Parker. But apparently, it's from someone named Carter Burden who -- as might be expected -- is a Vanderbilt descendant. Easy for her to say, that one can never be too rich, too thin or have too many books. Further searching led to Wallis, Duchess of Windsor, who's credited with the first two elements in that particular maxim -- the books seem to have been an add-on from Burden.

And then there's the one from Drew Barrymore, claiming one can never have too many books. I can only conclude she has a much bigger house than ours. And probably someone who dusts them now and then.

Probably the closest to my own sentiment is the homely little phrase from one of my all-time heroes, Frank Zappa : "So many books, so little time."

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