The rare book business is in transition and we are all looking for a solution. Turns out some of the answers are on the silver screen. The movie is the “Book Club”, the story of four women and the use of books to add flair to their lives. The girls are close to seventy and in fact are on both sides of it and they read books to stimulate memory, conversation, and experience and seem open to experimentation. Of course, to get there they must unlearn, learn or relearn that sex is a lovely way to experience serious pleasure deep into older age. The same has been said about books kept by the bedside but I would say the Club’s prescription is better.
Part of what ails the rare book business today is the sense that there are now so many other ways to engage, compete and subsequently, enjoy. That the end game with books is ultimately cerebral does seem a bit tame today given the enormous latitude now accepted in human behavior. Sixty-somethings now train to climb Mount Everest and when they succeed, publish their own books to share the experience.
But there is something in this movie for those committed to books, the fact that its what’s in the books that matter. The condition, binding and provenance matter not at all. It’s the ideas and experiences that are important and this movie reminds us that stimulating ideas stimulate action.
So I’ll expect at the 2019 New York Antiquarian Book Fair there will be at least some lists and perhaps a catalogue or two about books that spur action. They may not be about dating but they will be timely for we, of a certain age, are learning that age is no barrier to living fully.
Now here is a real review of this movie by the movie maven A. O. Scott of the New York Times.