There are books everywhere. Stacks and piles in all corners representing badly drawn categories and nowhere yet to go. Today is the day that the books get organized.
I have many, many books. I am attached to each one of them in some way. There are other items in my life that get to be purged and gotten rid of but very, very rarely a book. A book in my get-rid-of pile has to be some kind of monstrosity (and some of those I save out of a love for the curious) or have made its way to me completely by accident and misadventure.
Take my extensive collection of Margaret Atwood novels, for example. I hate Margaret Atwood (not personally, the last time I made that mistake I may have killed off a popular Canadian author. Oops). For several years, though, it was all people seemed to want to give me for birthdays, Christmas and other occasions. Then there were the novels I studied in the "gender and literature" course I signed up for, imagining that we would actually be examining gender in literature instead of just reading women's lit. I currently own:
The Handmaid's Tale
The Edible Woman
Simple Bones and Good Murders
I'm sure I have more, but I haven't crossed their paths yet tonight. They are free to a home, good or otherwise. Do you want to save me from Atwood? Please?
I've successfully filled three shelves – two spanning antiquity to modern 20C lit and one for theory and anthologies. I am tight on space for modern novels and I'm bothered by this because it means that one shelf down and I won't be able to look at them all the time. The bottom shelves are (in my mind) reserved for cookbooks, non-fiction how-to kind of stuff, histories and popular novels that I don't necessarily feel that strongly about. The love affair books - the cloth and leather bound classics; the beautifully printed 1950's hardcovers, the pocket poetry editions – these I must be able to see. Although, most of them have their titles rubbed right off their spines which makes figuring out what one has sort of difficult.
Note the pickled beets at left serving as bookend:
That probably explains why I have so many duplications. There are certain books that I have consciously
bought more than once. I have purchased The Wars by Timothy Findley three times – once was to read it the first time, twice was the first edition I found and the third time was to give away except that I didn't. I have bought East of Eden twice - again, the first was to read it and the second was because the newest edition was so exquisite.
Then there's Shakespeare. Many of my books came from my mother's collection. When mine and hers were merged, a certain amount of duplication was bound to occur. For instance, of course we both had nearly complete sets of the Shakespeare plays plus a Complete Works of respectively. That doesn't explain the four copies of Hamlet. Do we each claim responsibility for two? Or is one of us really that crazy?
I think I need one more day at this. I spent this afternoon alternating between compulsive book placement and sitting in the park across the road for Shirley Day. It was oddly uncomfortable being the only person there sitting alone. I knew almost everyone but they all had small groups; I mingled, I wandered, I chatted but I ultimately sat alone to eat my salmon dinner with a copy of The Real Life of Sebastian Knight. Being there seemed like a strange test of my ability to socialize. I should have volunteered, it would have given me purpose.
A Grumpy Bastard
ETA: people keep telling me to get a Kindle. This is not an appropriate solution to too many books. More books is the solution. More books and more shelves and another house to house them. And endless hours to read them.
. Is it a coincidence that they named it after something flammable? Book burnings anyone?