The Appearance of Wisdom

I happened to find myself today in a furniture store. After all, aren’t furniture stores where the lost go to be found? Well, philosphical musings aside, I noticed something rather peculiar among the bookshelf section of the store.

One particular shelf held about 20-30 beautiful leatherbound volumes. I noticed a sign saying “old world books—$24.” I approached, wondering what literary treasures might be found in a furniture store, of all places. As I began to inspect the books, I found that all were written in Swedish. Pages upon pages of “bork! bork! bork!”

While Louisville may be considered the melting pot of Kentucky (Hoosiers are everywhere, and I think there are a couple of Ohioans down the street…), I don’t think that there is a large Swedish contingent in residence. So what, pray tell, was the purpose of the two rows of Scandinavian shelves?

The only conclusion I can come to is that the store expects that non-Swedes who wish to enjoy full bookshelves will buy the beautiful leatherbound editions at 24 bucks a pop. Shelves full of bork give the appearance of a vast library.

While I have no bork on my shelves, I’ll admit to having a little pork in my library. There are various editions of Bibles—all technically the same book, yet they take up half of a shelf. There are several books I have duplicates of which remain shelved. There’s even a stray copy of The Prayer of Jabez (a book given to me as gift because I lampooned it so).

All this simply goes to show that nearly every person’s library contains books they haven’t read. The problem with the Swedish “filler books” is that aside from the buyer taking a crash course in the Svensk dialect, these books don’t have a prayer of being read. And this, dear reader, is a shame.

Has our culture come to the point where one must pay $24 to put bork on the shelf in order to appear educated or well-read? What would the Swedish Chef have to say about this?

2 thoughts on “The Appearance of Wisdom

  1. I confess to coming back from a book-buying binge, gluing in the ex libris plates, setting the volumes up on the appropriate shelves, then standing back and grinning at how nice a full shelf of books looks…

    But at the end of the day, or a life, the aesthetics of pretty shelves of books mean nothing compared to the wisdom gleaned from (or in spite of) them. I slowly make my way through the scores of books picked up at sales over the last three years, and exercise great self-restraint when I find myself face to face with an alluring title. The next step in maturity is when I gladly hand over books that I’ve read, even if they are Thick and Important and sport handsome spines.

    And I, too, have “The Prayer of Jabez” in the library, but it rests in a special silly section full of little books like “Is the Antichrist at Hand? What of Mussolini?” (1927). It also contains “Prayer of Jabez for Teens” but I haven’t been able to yet secure my copy of “Prayer of Jabez for Pabst-Swilling Blue-collar Joes.”

  2. Have you considered buying the set and selling it on eBay? I think it would be worth the risk, and if they didn’t sell you still have some nice decorative books.

    What can I say? I’m all about the style! 😛

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