I was at a dinner party over the weekend, where I wasn’t even kicked out for being a literary agent. The people at the party were mostly tech types — someone brought a couple of small carved pieces of metal that apparently do something very cool, and after several years of intense studying I might actually be able to tell you what that is.
The problem with these tech types is that they often are also really smart when it comes to books, making me feel very inadequate. Couldn’t they at least be illiterate to even the playing field??? It’s not like I could walk into their jobs and talk about how to algorithm the prime of silicon squared, or whatever the heck it is they do. So sure enough, someone at the party made a very interesting point about the process of buying books.
Her hypothesis, which was offered, by the way, over fabulous homemade chicken and dumplings and mac & cheese courtesy of a future food world star, is that when people buy books it reflects what we want to be. In other words, the process of buying books is aspirational, and what we buy says something about how we see ourselves and what we want to become.
I’m not sure I always agree (after all, one of my recent purchases was Christopher Moore’s YOU SUCK, which hopefully doesn’t suggest that I have a self-esteem crisis), but I thought this topic was provocative enough for a mini-Monday edition of You Tell Me. Does our purchase of books say more about us than meets the eye? Are books merely entertainment or is there something deeper at play, and does how we see ourselves play a role?