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Interesting bit from Lois McMaster Bujold, on books
Bar Harbor
From a recent interview:
On the opposite end of the scale from “reading for status” or “books as tools for social engineering” (i.e., political propaganda), is the very common use of fiction by readers as a mood-altering drug, which certainly beats most other kinds of self-medication (alcohol, street drugs, cutting) in terms of safety and efficacy. Plus, you might learn things. But I don’t think anyone can figure out how to shelve books by mood.

Some years back, I read an interview with a forensic pathologist who made the remark that he’d never walked into a bad crime scene, the kind with blood on the walls, in a house with a lot of books. These disasters were all in book-free spaces. Makes sense to me—books give a time-out, a place of temporary escape till one’s spirits lift, not available to trapped non-readers. It suggests that genre fiction, which tends very much to be chosen by readers’ mood needs, is not so trivial in its social benefits after all.
In other LMB news, the new Miles book is done, but due to the still-mired-in-the-last-millenium speed of publishing, won't be out until late 2010.

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Considering that these days, I have certainly been using Miles (and other similar, witty and scrappy heroes) to lift my mood, I have to concur with the author on this use of fiction.

I'd like to think the forensics guy was right, but there might be another explanation: Statistically, most houses don't have a lot of books. I've read that the trend has been for fewer buyers, each one buying more books. Therefore, fewer households with significant numbers of books displayed.
Anecdotally, I've visited many houses without books; I once heard a realtor tell friends that their house with all the lovely built-in bookshelves would be impossible to sell, nobody would know what to do with so many knick-knack shelves.

Also, the room where the murder took place might not be the one with all the books. In my house, there are very few books in the living room, dining room, and kitchen--they are all displayed elsewhere. So if I were gunned down in the living room, it would look as though I'm a non-reader.

Well, reading strictly, the specialist said that he'd not seen a really bad event, "...in a house with a lot of books". Now, that's taking a strict reading of a second-hand report, but still looks like whole-domicile, not room-specific.

Of course, if that's not comforting, it just means you need more bookshelves as talismans!

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