Sunday, November 3, 2013

So Many Books, Never Too Many

The downside-or upside depending on which side of the boxes you're on-of working in bookstores is the access to books. They're always crossing through your hands, triggering interest ("ooh, I need to read that") or aversion ("oh look, another six tubs to James Patterson and Danielle Steel") every day.  You wind up with a steady stream of new ones coming into the home, many being strays given a last minute reprieve from recycling.

An urge to not totally squander my day off had me moving the contents of the "What I'm Watching" and "What I'm Reading" lists I've maintained on here for years onto their own pages. (I did this because at least twice a year, Blogger "breaks" these list gadgets, and this time I got the impression it wasn't going to get fixed to my satisfaction.) Looking at all those lovely book titles spurred me to sort the contents of six boxes and a couple tubs of books in the basement. I also rearranged the contents of my office bookshelves, a pair of "spine" towers that look like six feet of towering, tottering stacks when full. Chris should be pleasantly surprised, not to mention shocked, to see I've actually weeded out a good two boxes worth of books judged to be in good enough shape to sell on. I won't be able to take them to my store, though. I think I'd have a weird attachment if I saw them on the shelves, not to mention guilt if clearance time came for them. I'd probably wind up re-buying them. No, better to take them to a different store, and set them free like goldfish in the local pond. I'll be wishing them well and hoping they have long lives and new homes, even though I know the future that actually awaits them is one of death by shock from a new environment, or they become a quick meal for a larger, more experienced denizen of the wild. No, house pets of any stripe tend not to do well in the wild, nor do well-loved paperbacks.

Our view of our books, like so many things, is skewed by virtue of being "mine." My own I've "experienced," so I expect them to be treated with due deference. Now that I've worked in buying books, it's easier to detach. I went through and weeded many out. "Too yellowed, too stained, too torn, too old, too common, too tattered." I feel defensive for the books while I judge.

Having that distance helps me to actually part with them. I've always kind of wanted a house with a room where every wall was floor-to-ceiling shelves, and every book, CD, DVD, videotape, knick-knack, whatever could have a permanent home. Maybe I want to be surrounded with the reassurance that I am what I see myself as, well-rounded and educated. The books I display must be tangible proof of that, right? More likely, it's just that I have a very hard time letting go of things. Some fear that, even though I know full well I'll never revisit many of them, since I have them now and may want them in the future, I should just keep them. I don't need to be a hoarder, and on some logical level I know they're silly worries. It's just stuff.

After our move in June, I know that, more accurately, it's heavy, time-consuming, space-taking stuff. I think if I've read it, I can let it go now. I don't need our first home crammed and cluttered with so much of my stuff. I don't believe you can have too many books, but I'm slowly learning (mostly through a bad back and lack of shelf space) and accepting the lesson that one can have enough.

No comments:

Post a Comment