Luckily that’s not ill literally, given some of my other recent posts. But I
have had lab work Monday and I’m sure that means a COVID booster and flu shot (I was wrong!), so don’t give up!
Anyway, I was reading a fellow blogger’s post about book stewardship and was inspired to do in 1500 words what he did in 200 – tell my story about my relationship with books.
My affair with books started young. First, with summer reading challenges from school where I read non-stop throughout the summer break – although, I admit to some sandbagging with some pretty thin books. But, hey…systems are made to be gamed, right?!?
From there, things got a little more personal. It started with a Sherlock Holmes omnibus that my parents got me for my birthday one year – I can only imagine the relief they felt at finally being able to buy a gift for me with confidence. I was their only non-athletic child, so it was clothes or nothing up til that point.
I was a child when giving cash as a gift was poor form. Now I’m a man-child and if you’ve got any spare cash, ask me for my CashApp handle. Haha.
Anyway, I quickly learned I needn’t wait for books to be gifted and by the time I left for college I was lugging around boxes of books that I couldn’t possibly part with. By the time I left college, it was even worse. Besides the textbooks I felt I should hold onto, I have two words for you: Anne Rice.
What? I was basic before being basic was a badge of ignorance. Plus, I’ll take being basic about books over being basic about boots and PSLs any day.
Anyway, I’m not sure when my blog buddy started doing the book purges he wrote about, but he at least sounds like he makes a consistent – if not slightly Sisyphean – effort. Shocking no one, I cannot say the same.
Eventually, the few boxes of books I hauled around from apartment to apartment in my 20s became random walls of bookshelves throughout my residence. Then stacks of books by the bookshelves. After that, it was a resigned lack of control over my environment.
Strangely, I live under the same circumstances now, just due to a single feline versus the presence of too many books.
My purges were nonexistent in my college years and throughout my 20s – despite my cross country moves every 1-5 years. When I transitioned from an apartment renter to homeowner and my moves became the mark of a decade versus annual affairs, things really got out of hand with my book situation. A bedroom of bookcases overflowed into a situation where I had end tables and plant stands whose bases were stacked books. My second to last move was from 4 BR house to 1 BR condo 200 miles away and that forced a huge purge. It wasn’t until my return move a decade later that I – and I mean my back – finally said “The hell with it” and I consolidated back to a single bookcase. All this is to say that if my Blog Buddy’s wife is the reason he purges books the way he purges, then my spine is apparently as close to a spouse as I’ll ever have.
For now, I’m kind of in limbo. Any of the recent books I’ve started lay unfinished around my place. Most have been either given to me by their owners or impulse items I’ve picked up as I passed by a neighborhood lending library.
I’ve bought exactly one in the past two years.
So purging these days would be easy – I’d just like to finish a book before I condemn it to its next home. Before I can “ethically” do a purge, I’ve got to figure out what my book husbandry funk is and get myself past it!
3 thoughts on “Literary Ills”
Like you, I went through decades of accumulation. I began hanging shelving on the upper sides of every open wall in the house to take advantage of empty space. But then my elders began dying and I inherited the lion’s share of some big collections, partly because others had no capacity or interest in taking them. The realization hit that my children are not interested enough to absorb the collection. So the last decade I have been trying with limited success to pare down. Sometimes less is more if you can retain books selectively.
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Just don’t forget to flip through them real quick to make sure there’s no money in them!
Very true. When I die, I hope my wife and kids look everywhere for cash I have squirreled away for emergencies like bail money.
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