By Rebecca Cantrell
What’s the guiltiest pleasure on my bookshelf?
I’m vaguely guilty about all the stacks of books I have that won’t even fit onto my shelves, but not enough to give them top billing. Because, really, they’re just a sign that I will never catch up and read them all and where’s the pleasure in that? (I know, the pleasure is in the journey of reading the ones I do get to. Thank you, Mr. Zen.)
The guiltiest pleasure on my bookshelf is my collection of newspapers from the 1930s. Here’s how it looks all tucked away nicely. It seems nice and safe and non-guilt inducing. And yet…
First off, it cost more than my Spartan soul can justify. I got them mostly on e-bay, for a song, and they are tax-deductible because I use them to write my books. But still, I probably could have found scanned in versions online for free. Version that did not have the delightful scent of old newspaper and ink. Versions that did not feel smooth under my caressing fingertips. Versions that you couldn’t leaf through, just as the original subscriber did, eighty long years ago. Yes, pleasures of the eye and nose and hand won out over common sense. Guilty.
Secondly, I worry that those priceless artifacts will be destroyed while under my protection. Much like the dining room table that has needed to be refinished for ten years. And don’t even get me started on the sorry condition of the chairs. Back to the bookshelf. Those newspapers are made of lovely old paper. And Kona eats paper. It covers it with mildew. It sends silverfishes scurrying in. It dispatches geckoes to poop on it. And I have recklessly brought those newspapers here.
I try to keep them safe. I store them in a blue archival box recommended by a friend who sets up museum exhibits (nice job at the California Academy of Sciences, BTW, Pixie!). It’s acid free and protects against gecko poop and maybe silverfish. I have a dehumidifying box in there that has magic crystals that suck the moisture out of the air to protect the paper from mildew. But when I took the box down for these pictures, the indicator crystal had changed from friendly blue to poisonous pink. It’s in the oven now, having the moisture backed out of it, but how long was it pink? What evil befell the newspapers during the weeks it might have sat there, flashing out a pink beacon of despair?
I don’t know. But I know it’s all my fault.
Still, I think I will go re-read those newspapers one more time before they succumb…
What’s YOUR guilty bookshelf pleasure?