Sunday, March 9, 2008

Cleaning out my bookshelf I found myself

We're packing up our house, with the hope that we'll hear about our new house soon. Packing is only slightly better than unpackaging, so I've been taking it a box at a time. Yesterday, I decided to go through my bookshelf and donate the books that I no longer read. Sitting on the floor of my office, I found myself looking back at myself almost twenty years ago.

Never one to frequent libraries, I hang out in bookstores. I typically buy my books because I like to write in the margins, dogear the pages and generally re-read things a few times. My purchasing habit means that I end up with books about which I might have a fleeting interest. Hence, the handbook on making soap, the guide to collectible compacts, the menu and recipes from the Titanic - hey, everything was about the Titanic when the movie came out. Other books show a deeper interest, such as my many books on natural healing, herbal remedies, reflexology and massage. Twenty years ago, I really followed herbalism and found the idea of holistic healing to be important. Now, I hardly take a vitamin. What happened in twenty years to change my point of view? I'm not sure. These well-thumbed guides went into the donation pile for someone else to use.

Other books I found too interesting to part with - my books on medieval cooking and homemaking (yes, medieval); my many many books on learning French - I have yet to do so - my anthology of English poetry, my copy of Memoirs of a Geisha that I have read five times. Childhood books (The Ghost Next Door was a big favorite) hold space next to travel guides of places I've loved (New Orleans, Paris, London) and places I'd love to go (Buenos Aires, Italy).

I kept my guide to vintage clothing, my kitchen collectibles guide, my How-To on wiring and home repair, my books on Marie LaVeau and Ben Franklin. I let Cold Mountain go and a Michael Crichton anthology that I'll never read. My texts on women's history stayed, as did those about the 1920s and the F. Scott Fitzgerald short stories.

Most of the books I kept were just too nostalgic for me to part with yet. They'll get packed up and moved to the new house. Maybe I'll reread some of them and maybe I won't. I'll certainly add new volumes to the empty spaces - my book on Grace O'Malley the Irish pirate queen, my copy of Wicked and a biography of Marie Antoinette. My many cookbooks will be in the kitchen, but I cleaned some of those out too. A guide to winemaking and the Gilroy Garlic festival book are going to new homes. My new copy of Confetti Cakes will stay nearby so I can learn how to work with fondant.

I need to look into a library card.


rosemary said...

catching up...thank you for not posting a dessert recipe. I have the same feelings about my took me years to do it but I just donated 100 of my fiction books to the Library. I like to open them, smell the pages, look at the style of print, read the flaps over and over again, no notes in fiction but lots of folded pages with favorite passages.

I loved Memoirs...the book was best of course. I was impressed by the scenery and the small things like how they held the kimonos. As for the words sushi and coconut in the same sentence...umm, no even tho you make it sound good. Did you get your dream/perfect house? Packing can be a good thing.

Professor said...

This is great. Sometimes books are like old friends to us and I can relate to your experience!