Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Abundance of a Bookstore (A List)

I always enjoy reading book-related lists but this one from Italo Calvino, quoted in The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop, is special. Calvino's novel If on a Winter's Night a Traveler describes the "abundance of a bookstore" this way (I put the categories into list format):

1. Books You Haven't Read

2. The Books You Needn't Read

3. The Books Made for Purposes Other Than Reading

4. Books Read Even Before You Open Them Since They Belong to the Category of Books Read Before Being Written

5. The Books That if You Had More Than One Life You Would Certainly Also Read but Unfortunately Your Days Are Numbered

6. The Books You Mean to Read but There Are Others You Must Read First

7. The Books Too Expensive Now and You'll Wait Till They Are Remaindered

8. The Books Ditto When They Come Out in Paperback

9. Books You Can Borrow from Somebody

10. Books That Everybody's Read So It's as if You Had Read Them, Too
That should about cover it.


  1. Love it. How about books you've read and wish other people would read, and books you've read and wish you hadn't? ;)

  2. What, exactly, falls under the category: Books Made for Purposes Other Than Reading? Can someone give an example?

  3. 11. Books That Demand to Be Read, Whose Covers Cry Out to You From a Far Shelf, Whose Titles Resonate with You So Clearly They Feel Like a Punch in the Gut, and So You Purchase Them, Palms Moist with Anticipation, and You Bring Them Home and Set Them Aside, Saving Them for a Quiet Evening When You Can Pour a Glass of Wine and Turn up a Single Lamp, and Then You Sit with Them, Them Alone, and if You're Lucky, if You're Really Lucky, You Find You Love Them Like a New Friend.

  4. Funny you mention that second category, Sylvia...I just reviewed one of those this afternoon.

  5. Wow, Will...those are rare, but the search has to go on. I've only had that experience a few times in my whole life.

    Thanks for reminding me of why I keep looking.

  6. I love that list and Sylvia and Will's additions to it. #5 especially convulsed me.

    Jeanne, I'm thinking #3 is along the lines of dictionaries and encyclopedias, more for persusal and brief dips into it, rather than sitting down and reading it cover to cover. (And NOT say, carving out the innards of books are throwing a few paltry jewels into it which should be punishable by death. I don't care how out of date or dull the book is. Gah.)

  7. Hehe-I just shared the actual passage out of the Calvino a couple weeks ago! I love it. :)

  8. Carrie, I like your "dictionary theory." That's likely to be it, along with books of maps and things of that nature. Thanks.

  9. I'll have to find that,'s always amazing how things get mentioned in "twos" and "threes," isn't it?