May. 12, 2018

Too Many Books!

“You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy books, and that’s kind of the same thing.”

“I have always imagined paradise as a kind of library.” Jose Luis Borges

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” Stephen King

According to Wikipedia, Johannes Gutenberg developed, circa 1439, a printing system, adapting existing technologies to printing purposes. That changed the world. Time passed, more printed works were available, more people learned to read and eventually there were local libraries, sacred palaces filled with books of every kind. Then, glory of glories, those libraries took to having Used Book Sales. When we were young and first married, we had lots of children, no money, and had just bought our house, a beautiful place, now 102 years old. Oldest daughter, Leah, and I had a common bond. We read. I don’t mean we read now and then, I mean we READ! Usually two or three books at a time. In fact, twelve year old Leah never left the house without three books; the one she was reading, the one she planned to read next and one more just in case. As for me, I had books propped up in the kitchen, the dressing room and my nightstand.

The Used Book Sales were a little slice of heaven for us. Arriving on the appointed day well in advance of the opening, we bought shopping bags filled with goodness knew what for $1.00. Novels went for a dime or a quarter and we staggered away with delicious booty that kept us happy for weeks.

We, of course, used the Library with gay abandon, taking the limit of books every few days, wallowing in words. Leah got special permission from the Librarian to have an adult library card so she could devour all the Perry Mason mysteries. I vividly remember telling her she was not to read Forever Amber or Lydia Bailey as I felt they were far too racy for her. Compared to what is available now along the lines of 50 Shades of Grey, they were about as racy as Dick, Jane and Spot, whom we met in the First Grade.

Time marched on and we could buy the latest books fairly cheaply when they came out in paperback at Costco. Time continued to march inexorably on and we became Kindle readers. I have published several things on Amazon Kindle and, occasionally, get a dollar or two in royalties.

So, all those Used Book Sales and purchases here and there have made it possible for me to have a bookshelf in every single room of my house and I add to them still with various hard or soft cover books. I love how they look. I love the fact that I have read them all, many more than once, and there is something about being surrounded by books that is immensely comforting. Have you ever visited someone and discovered they have no books anywhere? How do they exist?

However...and you knew one was coming...I now must divest myself of many of these beloved books as my partner in life and fellow book lover, John, is now residing – and reading, I’m sure – in heaven and I must let our house go to another family, hopefully, with children who will love growing up here and want to refill the bookcases with their own favorites.

Too many books! the real estate people say. Too cluttered. Books are not necessary. They are in the way. How is that even possible, I ask? But, happily, the Library is willing to take back their books and use them in yet another Used Book Sale. So, I’ve rolled up my sleeves and put together dozens of cardboard cartons that John had bought for some reason or other and I’ve spent the last week wandering through the house taking books off shelves and placing them in boxes. I’ve been to the liquor store and looted their box pile and; although I don’t think my back will ever be the same; I have gathered 442 hard cover and 75 paperback books. The Library folks, Martha and Jeff, came yesterday and took them all away. I was relieved the job was done but sad at the same time.

I am comforting myself with the thought that next month at the June Used Book Sale there will probably be another mother-daughter team, like Leah and me, who will be in book heaven as soon as they walk through the door.