Why Collect?

The psychology behind collecting is far beyond me. All I know is why I collect books. My favorite author is Tim O’Brien who wrote The Things They Carried. I don’t have any idea why that book touches me so deeply, but it does. So I wanted something more personal than just a paperback or non-existent e-book. At first I purchased a First Edition/ First Printing of it. Then I got that book signed by Tim O’Brien. One of the stories in The Things They Carried is called Speaking of Courage. If you’ve read it, you know it’s one of the most personal and powerful stories O’Brien’s ever written. I decided to trace the evolution of that story. I have a copy of The Massachusetts Review from 1974 in which Speaking of Courage is published for the first time. The main character’s name is different. The ending is different. It was meant to be a chapter in Going After Cacciato 15 years before The Things They Carried was even written. Tim O’Brien signed it for me and when he did he asked “is this older than you?” Not quite, but close. I also have a copy of Granta from 1989 in which Speaking of Courage made its first appearance in its current form. O’Brien signed that one too. I just think book collecting is fun. It’s also meaningful. The best books, my favorite books, have changed my way of thinking and have altered my perception of reality. They have become a part of me and I want something real, something I can weigh in my hand as the ideas fill my mind. Paperbacks and e-books just don’t do that.