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Beginner's Heart

the author's

the author’s

As we come closer to moving — even though we no longer have a house under contract, nor do we know when we’ll find one! — I’m getting ever more serious about ‘cleaning house.’ Which means that we emptied the storage unit. We cleaned out the attic. And I’m through all the easy passes on my (numerous) books. Now we’re into hard choices.

We’re also into interesting learning, if that makes sense. Do those of us who love books (and boy, do I LOVE books) keep them to reread? Do we keep them because the tangible presence of the book reifies our first and/or later reding experience(s)? Or do we keep them to impress others with our full bookshelves (I sooo hope I don’t do this!),?

If I thought I’d read them again, I’d keep far more books. But right now, I don’t even know if I’ll have a study! OR if it will be large enough to have my book case right beside my desk, as it is now. Certainly with my current set-up, I pull out the dictionary of music for poetry terms, sometimes. Or an anthology I dearly love — No More Masks! — to read a poet I miss. And the Writer’s Market, the Synonym Finder…all my ‘tool’ books? I still pull them out frequently. But what about my collection of Billy Collins? Or Merwin? My collected Auden? How can I give those away? They’re such a part of me! And this doesn’t include all the books in the living room! TWICE what the picture shows; that’s just 1/2 of what we still have!

the author's

the author’s

I confess: a heckuva lot of the books left are mine. At least the ones downstairs — my beloved’s study is equally full, but those books aren’t my problem. 😉 No, it’s all the poets — Doty & Gilbert & Oliver & Collins, Levertov & Hayden & Pastan. As well as writers who taught me writing: Lamott & Kooser, Dillard & Rhodes. And then there are the novelists who saved me: when I was full of trembling pain and they offered escape, even comfort. Plus books on gardens, and bees, and birds, and children books for the grandson…And more.

Yup. A LOT of books, all of them personal. What should we do when we have waaaay too much stuff we love? Inanimate, totally suffocating stuff??

Most wisdom traditions caution us about too much junk, the thing-ification of our daily lives. Meditation, good works, prayer, charity — all are better approaches to everyday living than dusting and reorganising material goods. I know this! But I still love my books. Not as much as Hector the cat, but a  LOT. I keep thinking I’ll read the new edition of the Princeton Encyclopædia of Poetry & Poetics, although I had a hard enough time doing it for my dissertation. The chances of me doing it now? Remote to non-existent. 🙂

I have no grand plan, so if you were reading this far to figure out my solution, I’m sorry. Nope. I’m just going to keep taking things to the library (they can sell what they don’t want for ca$h), and handing other books out to friends. It’s all I know to do. In the meantime, I’ve gotten rid of one whole drawer of junk! Whoohoo! (N.B.: there wasn’t a book anywhere…sigh.) And if you have better ideas? Please — share!

 

 

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