Loving books isn’t the secret. (That would be our common thread, of course). And by books, I mean not just the ideas and words, but the tactile, crunchy, musty, heaviness of them; the way a particular edition can be burned in to your brain. The folded corner on page 43 of Bridge of Birds. That tear. This doodle. That stain. The exact placement of this sentence across these two pages. The physical bits of a book becomes as familiar as a good friend’s face, and I am a possessive reader.
Outside of the blandest reference material, I cannot read library books. I cannot read borrowed books. If there is the slightest chance that I’ll fall in love with a book (now or later, because sometimes the timing just isn’t right), I have to know that it (book and specific copy) will be waiting for me whenever I need it next. Without that certainty, I can’t even begin to read.
For years, I took books from the library. I’d hold them, look at their covers and think that I really should start reading them soon. But I couldn’t. Not knowing that I’d have to give them back. Or if I started to read them, I’d have to buy a copy for myself before I could return them. Once or twice, I may have neglected the returning all together.
Perhaps I have commitment issues. But I also have my books, so what do I care?
But then comes True Love. And True Love always brings with it baggage. In this case, the baggage consisted of Boy-o’s own many crates of books, and suddenly between the two of us, there aren’t enough shelves in the library for all of the books!
First, Boy-o had the idea of double-stacking. While this technically worked for the paperbacks, it broke my heart to see such dear friends hidden behind someone else. And then, even that wasn’t enough. We had stacks on the floor, taller than myself. But stacks, you know, they topple. There was nothing to do, but to start boxing the surplus up.
Imagine! Books, stacked in boxes, never to seen or loved again?!
And then one day it hit me. Boxed up, away from sight and recollection, I didn’t love them anymore. Sure, there were a number of treasures hidden in there, books whose absence niggled and tormented me until I’d have no choice but to uncrate them in the middle of the night, just to re-read this or that page. But there were also a number — a large number — of books which I knew I’d simply outgrown. They’d been boxed up for so long, and I hadn’t missed them.
I seized that realization, and I ran with it. Ran, all the way to http://bookcrossing.com!
And now begins The Grand Adventure of Letting Go, again and again.
There are, of course, a lot of books on my shelves which I won’t be letting go of. Not now, probably not ever. And of course, the Boy-o has not had his own epiphany yet. But I do have two goals in mind. Resolutions, if you will:
- Keep no more than can fit on our shelves.
- Approach new books with a carefree and fickle heart.
This second is the real challenge, and the real adventure. I’m on a quest to find my inner slut, that promiscuous party girl who can read ‘em and throw ‘em away. Not every book is worth moving in with, but that doesn’t mean there still isn’t a good night to be had!