Volume 4, Issue 3, 03/25/10
"What Shall I Do With All My Books?"
A couple days ago I was looking for pictures of famous
introverts, for a Powerpoint presentation I'm creating. I found
a beauty - of Abraham Lincoln sitting in a chair, a young boy
standing next to him. They're both focused on a big book
Lincoln is paging through on his lap. They seem engrossed.
There's a quiet introvert air about it.
It got me thinking about introverts and books.
I, myself, am addicted to books. Years ago I typed up an excerpt
from something - I have no idea of the source - that starts out,
"'What shall I do with all my books?' was the question. 'Read
them,' sobered the questioner. 'But if you cannot read them,
at any rate handle them, and, as it were, fondle them...'"
It gives permission to read a sentence here, a sentence there,
to arrange your books how you like them, to keep track of them
and "'....if they cannot be your friends, let them at any rate be
I hang onto this excerpt for reassurance.
I grew up in a house full of books (with two introverted
parents.) And one of my strongest memories of visiting my
grandparents every summer is of the floor to ceiling wall of
books in their living room. It seemed gigantic.
I wasn't just surrounded by books - I read them. I grew to
depend on them for stimulation and inspiration, living on the
edge of town in our little house on the prairie, pastures and
fields right out the back door.
I think it was a good combination for my young introvert self -
easy access to good reading and the big quietness of the prairie
right out the door. A balance to the almost constant
extroversion of life in the middle of lots of sisters and brothers.
I guess introverts are blessed when it comes to books. The
blood flow in our brains takes a path that spends a lot of time
up in the front, a complex territory that loves information and
making sense of it.
Introvert brains can (truly) spend endless amounts of time
imagining, generating ideas, playing with options, making plans,
rehearsing scenarios, thinking and thinking and thinking. We
get "hap hits" (chemical "hits of happiness") from it, all
without moving an inch. No wonder I'm addicted to books -
endless material for what my brain likes to do.
(Extrovert brains get their hap hits much easier from having
their senses stimulated - doing things, not just thinking about
But of course addiction has its dark side. When I was a kid,
there were books - so I read them. These many years later, it's
Books are small - there's always room for one more :-). It's said
that extroverts tend to have more friends than introverts.
That extroverts will consider someone a friend an introvert
might call an acquaintance.
For me with books it's the opposite. Be a book of the right
subject (and there are many) and you can be my friend. Even
after five minutes :-).
So I live with hundreds of friends (and more are on the way, no
doubt.) But I don't take my friendships lightly. Sometimes it
makes being in a crowd of strangers feel like a relief!
I enjoy my books for their very presence, for the possibility
they hold - to inform me, comfort me, surprise me, stimulate me,
support me. To keep me connected to the big pulse of life.
I go to that excerpt to reassure me, first of all, that it's a
fine thing to be so in love with books. But also to remind me
that my hundreds of friends are patient, not at all offended by
the word "acquaintance", and always happy to be fondled.
End of food for thought, onto a practical idea:
A Practical Idea for Introverts
Think about you and books - are they your friends? If they are,
spend a little time fondling them and see what you notice.
A Practical Idea for Extroverts
Be curious about you and reading. (I know extroverts who are
voracious readers). What do you like about it? What don't you
like about it?