My childhood homes were filled to the brim with books. My mom kept her many volumes of medical journals carefully organized right next to her kids’ baby books. My dad kept his diagnostic manuals scattered among self-help books and multi-language Bibles; I always worried that my belongings would get lost amongst his. When I was old enough for my own room, my sister gifted me her old bookshelf, and I immediately drained my red envelope savings to fill it. Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and my prized How to Train Your Dragon hardcover series completed the first two tiny shelves. When I entered middle school, Attack on Titan manga occupied the third. Through the next seven years, I indiscriminately gathered speculative fiction, high fantasy, and sci-fi until there wasn’t any space left, even if I laid them horizontally on top of one another.
In my college dorm, however, physical books are few and far between. They weigh too much to fly back and forth with me over break, and I fear damaging my older copies on the plane. Nowadays, my biggest library is on my phone. Admittedly, it’s a bit disorganized: a 2012 annual review of queer politics in America is lumped in the same folder as Osamu Dazai. Court transcripts from the 1980s are sandwiched between Walt Whitman and Richard Siken. In between volumes of my favorite webnovel is Elie Wiesel. And, of course, like my parents, I keep a copy of the DSM-5 downloaded for light reading.
My goal for the near-future is to replace my pdfs with real books. All hardcover, of course. I’d arrange them like I used to: by author and color. They’d be brand new, and I wouldn’t have worried about their price. I’d keep my favorite children’s books with my favorite college textbooks. I’d keep my pocket Bibles with Richard Siken (and stay fully aware of the implications). I’d be able to look in my living room and see all the ways I’ve grown from a dragon-loving kid to a manhwa-loving adult, and I’d love it.
Mack Ibrahim is a second-year at Wheaton College in Illinois. They are majoring in English with a Writing concentration and minoring in American Ethnic Studies. Their hobbies include obsessively reading the webnovel Omniscient Reader’s Viewpoint, going to concerts, and making memes for their D&D group.