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.