My drawing class got canceled! I was looking forward to that one.

I was up in Grass Valley yesterday to see my uncle from out of town, and my grandmother (which is its own little challenge). Besides seeing them, I got a couple of books: The Ancient Engineers, and finally a used copy of Zen Flesh, Zen Bones. I haven't been a fan of the newer printing, I don't usually like buying new books anyway, and I've been able to wait on this one. Two bucks! Much better than ten or twelve.

This got me thinking, though, about how I collect books. In examining my choosiness in books, I thought back to a description of collecting in The Island of Lost Maps, which I read recently. The author interviewed a well-known map collector, and discovered that collecting as a passion is much more than simple purchase and accumulation: we acquire related objects, to tell coherent stories that wouldn't be apparent in a random selection. The map collector, for example, brought out a series of maps which traced the plagiarism of a coastline of the United States, through several different mapmakers over a period of more than a hundred years. And the ultimate original source was more or less anonymous, but drew a very good map that other people copied for decades afterward.

My friend Ann has asked me before how I decide what goes in my book collection. In part, my books form part of my environment even more so than furniture: they're all the stuff I wish I could keep precisely memorized, but I can't. Brain extensions.

Books I have for sheer pleasure: the rare fiction, like Tolkien and Douglas Adams. I'm unlikely to re-read the Harry Potter books at this point, so I may sell them.

The spirituality collection: books on Zen, Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, the Bible. Thomas Merton, Chuang-tzu. The Sefer Ha-Aggadah, a couple of Bibles, even the Book of Mormon since it was free, Yeats's translation of the Upanishads. A fair number of aikido books.

The geek collection: dozens of thick technical books, ranging from computer science to more up-to-date Java and Perl references. I rarely use these, but man, when you need one, nothing else will do.

The post-oil books: how on earth did we survive before the things we now take for granted? The Forgotten Arts and Crafts, the Tribal Living Book, The Complete Modern Blacksmith, A History of the Machine, books on engineering in antiquity, books on gears and levers and mechanisms.

I'm not sure there's any story to be told beyond who I am and what interests me and what I like to learn and surround myself with.