A heartbreaking work of getting rid of books.
“A book can wait a thousand years unread until the right reader comes along.” George Steiner
I identify myself as a reader so it is particularly hard to get rid of my books. As a visual learner, reading is the way I make sense of the world. I am at ease with books around me.
There is a special bookcase in my house of books I have read and loved. Books aren’t impersonal objects to me.They carry in their pages the moments of my life. They were in suitcases with me on my trips. I found one from my honeymoon, my college favorites, books I read to my children, books that made the trip from New York to LA so many years ago and books that changed my life. I went through my books one by one. There was a lot of stuff in the pages. I found quotes that I had written down on little pieces of paper, theatre tickets, flower petals, letters and photos.
Inside the books themselves were worlds so much bigger than mine – Hemingway’s Paris, Bulgakov’s Moscow, Kazanzakis’ Zorba and Tolstoys’ Anna Karenina. The list is endless.There were characters that felt like I did about things from authors like Kerouac, Eggars, Rand, Salinger, Hughes, Frankl, Vonnegut, Potok, Conroy, Didion, Fitzgerald, Leibowitz and Wolfe. It was authors like Marquez, Llosa, Proust, Allende, Cervantes, Camus, Murakami and Hesse that made me want to see the world they came from. My most tattered book is “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. It is a book I often reread when I need any kind of self-help or understanding about the world.
I would never get rid of books willingly. Paperbacks and fast reads were the easiest to part with, I had a hard time with unread books. I have a lot of them on my night table that I want to read but haven’t gotten to yet. I have to read every book I have ever bought eventually. A book doesn’t have to be read by a certain date. Whenever I read it is always the right time. Classics, favorites, Pulitzer Prize winners, coffee table art and travel books are still with me. Some will stay in storage for a while because I can’t part with them yet.
Books connect us and explain things in ways that I often can’t. I asked my kids what they wanted from the house. My son said,”Ill take all your books.“