On Talking Bookshelves, or Musings of a Distant Dream

My biggest dream — and look at the danger of throwing it in the wind like this — is to have a personal library with 45,000 thousand books. Do not ask me why this specific number, but since I was a child, when my addiction to literature started, I put it into my head that I would have a personal library with this many volumes, and that when I die, it will be up to my children and grandchildren to decide what to do with these books, donate them, set up a public library, simply keep them at home as a personal library of the family. They are strictly forbidden to sell them though. The hard part is not to decide what to do with my inheritance, but rather to be able to put it together. I’m trying: in the 20 years of my life, I have been able to acquire around 500 books so far, more or less. Doing the math, if it continues like this, I will need to live 20 lives to get the 45,000 books I want. Welcome to the life of a poor millenial.

Needless to say, however, that this doesn’t matter when I consider the happiness these books give me. A large number of them remain unread (and I keep buying them), but they are all my children, I love them equally and unconditionally. They are currently divided into four shelves in my room, and are the soul of my resting environment. I believe that all of us have our peculiarities, at different levels and that they manifest themselves in various ways. In my case, I realized for some time now that I posses the extraordinary power to anthropomorphize anything. I’ve done this recently with my bookshelves. Maybe it’s because they’re relatively new and the most beautiful shelves I’ve ever had, but they are four shelves that have a name, a personality of their own, and that occasionally talk to me when I’m lonely.

The first bookcase is called Luislinda, and contains only my law school books. It was named after Luislinda Valois, the first black magistrate in Brazil, and also honors Luis da Gama, the country’s first black lawyer. So I decided to baptize it like this because these characters in Brazilian national history represent changes, and that’s what these books mean to me. Knowledge of law itself is the most powerful form of emancipation for a citizen, and sometimes, when I find myself discredited in the profession I have chosen, I talk to Luislinda, asking for support. She always answers me: “Then stop it. You’re not bound to anything. Freedom. Just do not forget that the consequences are yours and yours alone. “ Luislinda is like this, very cold. The second shelf has the name of Amelia, referring to Amelia Earhart. It contains all the literature of the world that I possess except the ones from East Asia. It’s the shelf that always supports me when I need the self-assertion that I can embrace the world.

The third bookcase is the East Asian literature books, mainly Chinese, Japanese and South Korean authors. My obsession with Asian literature is inexplicable. It’s called Akiko, and for no specific reason other than honoring my favorite Japanese poet. It’s a funny bookshelf. It reminds me of paradise — or the fictitious idea I have of paradise: it conveys the feeling that everything will be all right, everything is intertwined and everything will eventually make sense. The fourth bookcase is not of books, but of comics and manga, mostly the latter. It is the only male shelf, named after Edogawa, referring to the Japanese writer who has several of his works adapted to manga and anime. Responsible for satisfying my hidden pleasures and dispelling my deep worries, Edogawa is that friend that drags you aroung wildly partying for one night and watches over your hangover the next morning.

I’m either spending too much time alone, or books are really a man’s best friends after dogs. I think my bookshelves are turning into decisive factors in my environmental determinism, and as in a crazy biological-scientific procedure, they are not becoming humanized, but I am becoming more and more part of the books I read; it is more coherent to think in the opposite way, though, that the books we read become part of who we are. Or, candidly, perhaps all this is the perfect picture of the ideal relationship: these books take care of me, and I take care of them in return.