If you’re anything like me, you have piles of books everywhere waiting to be read, in the process of being read and library books that looked interesting– but I logically know I’ll never have time to digest all the things I want to read.
In this way, I’ve always been interested in the insight that could be gained from peeking at another person’s book piles. In the same vein, what would people think of me? Much like my musical tastes, there’s no rhyme or reason to any of it. Or is there?
Nina Katchadourian has thought through this very issue and created an art project to accompany these curiosities. The specific project that I have linked to cuts up William S. Burroughs’ book collection at his Kansas home. If you look at some of these photographs, there is definitely something to be said of the types of books Burroughs liked to read. From my estimation, his reading tastes are a little odd, off-the-wall and representative of the sub-culture of drugs just like his own writing.
Perhaps, I was drawn to this particular collection because I am currently re-reading Naked Lunch. The first time I read it, I think I was far too young to understand it. At the age of 14, it seemed like a jumbled-up mess of darkness and grotesque descriptions of disease. Now, at the age of 27, I understand that it is about the disgusting ways in which addiction can change your life–any addiction–violence, vapid consumerism or self-loathing. I see the inspiration even in just the titles of Nina’s cut-up project. Now, I’m interested in reading these titles for myself to see what Burroughs saw.
I thought I would take a few snapshots of the Jacksonville Public Library’s collection. We serve everyone and therefore, we try to collect books from as many different genres and tastes as we can. For this reason, I don’t necessarily think that these snaps will provide as much of a clue into the entirety of our collection as one’s own personal collection. However, I did try to pick titles that I found interesting or that played well together. Feel free to tell me what you think or post some pictures of your own!