Until recently, half of what I own was books. Now, perhaps a quarter. I sat down with my book collection and I culled it. I looked at titles that I’d read, and would probably not read again, even my recently usurped *favorite* book which I owned in hardcover was tossed into a bin for donating.
It was hard.
The librophile inside me shouted out in anguish every time one hit the bottom of the bin with an unceremonious thud. I looked back, then stopped looking. I forced myself to go forward, chucking books into piles for riddance. I couldn’t think about it.
I even got rid of some books I haven’t read, I told myself that couldn’t be the metric. I told myself that if I got rid of the book and I wanted to read it at some future point, even though I hadn’t read it in the decade and a half during which I’d moved it from shitty apartment to shitty apartment, I could get a copy from the library or from AbeBooks, delivered to my house for $4.
And even though my books have been my compatriots, my solace, my joy, I simply do not need them. I do not want my daughter to dig me out of an avalanche of books in forty years because I cannot let go.
And Christ those things are heavy.
I did not want to move them again, and for the foreseeable future, I will be a person who moves often. After the culling was through, and my indoor-rummage sale relieved me of many fewer than I’d hoped, I couldn’t bring myself to send them off in the truck with the American Rescue Workers. But I stopped myself from putting them back on my shelves.
Instead, I put them back into big plastic bins and back into my studio where they sat for months. And every time I went to my studio, I would look at my bins of books for getting rid of and feel sad, and compelled to go through them “just to be sure.”
I was irritated that they were taking up so much real estate in my already cramped space, angry for the way in which the books were an albatross.
And though the old saying holds, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” I am not fonder of my books as I live farther away from them. I experience the space of perspective. I yearn to cull my collection further, to own the best six books I have ever read, the ones I “need” for reference, and keep the rest filtering through my eReader, which I do not yet own. But I want one.
Wanting an eReader is a new thing. But I don’t want it yet. I need more time to idealize.
And so my frenzied affection, emotional yearning for the heavy, paper book continues to supersede my better plans, but I am growing. I am learning to create boundaries for myself and books.