Friday, March 15, 2013

Priorities Straight

Michael Gilleland provides an excerpt from Henry Ward Beecher:

If on visiting the dwelling of a man of slender means we find that he contents himself with cheap carpets, and very plain furniture, in order that he may purchase books, he rises at once in our esteem. Books are not made for furniture, but there is nothing else that so beautifully furnishes a house. The plainest row of books that cloth or paper ever covered is more significant of refinement than the most elaborately carved étagère or sideboard.

Give us a house furnished with books rather than furniture! Both, if you can, but books at any rate! To spend several days in a friend's house, and hunger for something to read, while you are treading on costly carpets, and sitting upon luxurious chairs, and sleeping upon down, is as if one were bribing your body for the sake of cheating your mind.

Let's see — my bedroom desk chair was found sitting out by the dumpster in the office park. My living room recliner was bought for $50 at a secondhand store. The coffee table next to it, likewise, for $25 about fifteen years ago. The dresser with the cracked mirror was a hand-me-down from relatives, as was the sofa, which is usually only occupied by the dogs anyway. One video-gaming armchair/ottoman combo was inherited from a deceased relative, and its companion, the Grand Classic (minus the wooden frame), was bought new for me as a present when I was a teenager. The kitchen table and two chairs were snagged at a yard sale for $10. My office desk chair is the relative newbie of the lot, at only a decade old and bought new at an office supply store (though still a basic, no-frills model at around $60). The most extravagant furniture purchase I've ever made, then, would have to be the new bed I got six years ago when I moved.

I keep stuff clean, and none of these things are in bad shape (the coffee table has some accentuating toothmarks that weren't there originally, due to a couple of the dogs over the years going through an otherkin phase and pretending they were termites, but it still has its structural integrity). I just have no interest in furniture beyond its functionality. But, by god, I sure do got me some books. I'll sit on beanbags, cinderblocks and boards if that's what it takes to afford more books.