Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Here's to how the wind blows

I have been on a quest for a couple of years to "get rid of all my earthly possessions." Trouble is, as a major packrat I have quite a lot of things, but then again they're not particularly valuable or anything. I'm just attached to them. Far too attached. That said, I purge each time I move, and I did pretty well last year as I was preparing to leave for Korea. The biggest sticking point with me is: MY BOOKS.

CDs and books are the only possessions I really don't want to get rid of. Nothing else seems particularly necessary, justifiable, philosophically worth it, etc. But music and books = lifeblood. As anyone who knows me knows, I have acquired a lot of books over the years.

My roommates were the caretakers of my library while I was in Korea. I left my books here in the upstairs middle room, with the promise to attend to them when I returned. Of course at that time I didn't know I'd be returning to live here for two months, so residing in the house this summer is just an added bonus. Yesterday I spent hours upstairs going through all of my books. And you know what I've decided to do?

Get rid of them.

I know! I know! You don't believe it. It's really me, I promise. I am not an impostor posting to this blog. I just think about dragging boxes and boxes of books with me - again - when I leave for Hofstra and as I travel the globe and you know what? No.

Yes, it still feels strange to type these words, to truly be thinking about and ready to get rid of my books. But it's really true. I am such a new person these days, I swear.

So I went through and organized them and I touched every book I own! Every book. That in itself was a fascinating experience. It was such a trip down memory lane, and furthermore I found the most interesting things IN the books, like bookmarks, old pieces of paper, cards, phone messages taken by former roommates I'd at some point used to keep my place...

(side note: there's a used bookstore here, in Cambridge, called Lorem Ipsum Books that decorates the bathroom walls with bits of paper like bookmarks and notes and such from the books it sells. how awesome is that?)

Anyway, I do believe I am going to sell my books. And you know what? After years of accumulation, I have a number of really interesting books!

Now, I have sold books to used bookstores before, actually. Several times over the years I have traded in a dozen or so at a time...but this time I am having a major sell-off. The ones I am keeping? At this point, I am only allowing myself to cling to 1)the gifts from friends and exes and such (surprisingly few) 2)the signed-personalized 3) a few in foreign languages, for practice 4)the cool special editions of Candide (my favorite book - I have six different editions of it) 5) and my Pulitzer novels library. But I might try to purge still further from those lingering groups as well. Like, do I really need to keep the books people gave me just because people gave them to me? I bet other people don't feel nearly as guilty about getting rid of a book I've given them!

It occurs to me I have other books floating around my parents' houses -- forever on my Things to Do list is the task of getting all my earthly belongings from their places -- but the tally, as of today, here in this house: I have 615 books. I have read 247 of them. (That's 40%.)

Hey, that's not so many, really!

"The key to traveling light is to not need very much..." Mary-Chapin Carpenter, 'One Small Heart'


raine said...

i hereby give you permission to chuck any book i've ever given you.

i also grant you permission to chuck any other book anyone else has given you. :)

KneuroKnut said...

That's so funny Linda - I did exactly the same thing upon returning from Korea. All my life I had dragged my boxes of books from one city to another and then stored them for years at a time. I even shipped a boxes of books back from Korea. I swore I would never depart with them and then, at some point last summer, I decided they had to go. I didn't need them. I gave them all away, got a library card to the library in my "new city" and the rest is history. I kept the ones I knew I would read again (Vonnegut mostly) and a few sentimental ones but the rest were gone. I've never looked back and I sleep well at night knowing that my next move will be 1000 pounds easier!

shi said...

Hey Linda, whaddup!!

This is Jocelle from Manchon.. u came to my and Ryans' place for Halloween 05 I think. Maaaaaan, I heard rumors about Suseong DDD but I didn't know it was THAT bad. I read your backentries, with mouth agape.. but also laughed so hard at some of the 'Dingy Dingy Dang' goings-on :)

Hope you're doing well in the US of A! I'd love to visit the endless skies of Arizona some day!