Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Purging books

M. and I in the middle of some home remodeling, just painting and staining after the contractor has finished, and otherwise putting things back together.

In the past, when we moved into a new house or apartment, we claimed our territory by first doing a fire-bowl purification, followed by building brick-and-board bookcases.

Yep, here we are, still decorating in Early Grad Student Style, more timeless than Colonial or Mission or Louis XIV.

Now we have a new panoramic view of the Wet Mountains, spread across two walls -- and less room for bookcases. The purge is on, and it ripples from the livng room through the bookcases in the study and the bedroom too.

I stand in front of a bookcase with cardboard cartons at my feet. The books by the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet whom I quote in everything I write -- those stay. The books by the Pulitzer-winning poet whom I admire but never really "got" -- they go into the box for the student literary club's fall fund-raising book-sale.

A friend who shares the "small house, many books" situation says "No extra space, and no books I want to purge!" There is defiance for you. But he is a writer in a tiny town, thirty miles from a half-decent library. And he wants to keep his rectangular friends close. I understand.

Maybe getting rid of books makes room for new books: new friends, new ideas, new experiences.

But it is a sad process too. It is realizing that I will never make time to learn XYZ or that technological changes have made my books on EFG obsolete. It is saying farewell forever to the me who was interested in PQR.

So far I have filled two cartons for the university literary club's fund-raising book sale, one our little two-room public library, and one of the university library, if they want them.

And then I sit on the sofa and watch a distant thunderstorm flicker on the ridges through our new double-glazed casement windows.

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Blogger brainwise said...

How well I understand that bittersweet sadness of saying farewell to books. I did it a few years ago, and I need to do it once again as I accumulated many books during the course of my interfaith ministry studies. Some I enjoyed, but no longer need. Others I never got around to reading, and I don't think I ever will. Hopefully, someone else will give them a good home and some loving attention.

4:05 PM  

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