Since Christmas, I have accumulated a healthy number of new books to add to my recently depleted collection and I don’t feel bad about it one bit. I should, but I don’t.
That depleted collection was part of a purposeful goal I set for myself a few months ago, to rid myself of the paperbacks and hardcovers that I had faithfully read time and time again but that also seemed to be overwhelming me simply because storage space had become such an issue. The books had taken over the bulk of square footage in my bedroom closet, the hallway closet, and even the closet in the spare bedroom. I’m pretty sure there were also a few boxes of books stored in the garage.
Clearly, I needed to restructure my literary preferences – the first books to go belonged to the Twilight Series (yes, I read them…what of it!?!?), the first book to stay was Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. I have twice attempted to finish that novel and I have twice been so aghast and heartbroken that I just couldn’t. I know how it ends but I am not ready to see the last few pages with my own eyes quite yet. Although when I read Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, I was so horrified by the story that I wanted to jump off a bridge and into the path of an oncoming tractor-trailer just to make it stop, yet every night I convinced myself to keep reading it to the end. Maybe it’s the brand-new-life/end-of-life contrast involving both tales. Whatever it is, they’re both emotionally exhausting.
There was a community yard sale back in October and whatever wasn’t sold was donated to the Vietnam Veterans of America. This included clothing, shoes, knick-knacks, stuffed animals, and boxes and boxes of books. I didn’t feel the twinge of sadness I thought I would, watching them go away while being clutched in the hands of garage-sale shoppers or hauled off by charity volunteers. I felt freed.
Another reason I supposed I could finally purge all those books from my life is because I acquired a NOOK on Christmas the year before last. It took me only a short while to adapt to the idea of having books stored inside the brain of such a small, portable machine (remember, I’m technophobic) but it was quite liberating, I must admit. Before too long, I was plucking titles from the Barnes & Noble NOOK bookstore and carefully placing them in order by date or author or however I wanted to arrange them on my virtual NOOK shelves.
Over time, though, maybe over the course of just a few months, I truly began to feel like something was missing. Like some of the simple pleasures of reading had been taken from me in the absence of tangible pages and backstrips and edged paper. The weight of the book, the font and spacing of the words, the photographs and illustrations…I pined for them. Certain books – whether cookbooks, poetry and short story collections, or favorite classic novels – have earned their way into my life. And maybe not permanently, but undoubtedly for the time being.
Tomorrow I’ll post the list of books that I’m currently reading …
(Hint: they’re ALL non-fiction, with one exception, and involve breadmaking, cannibalism, lead poisoning, ocean zoning, and how to behave on an airplane when it’s obvious you’re about to lose your shit.)