It’s me, peeking out from behind the covers.
I have obviously been keeping my bookish thoughts to myself for the past week, but you’ll be happy to know I’m ready to share some of them with you on this fine Thursday evening.
One of the things keeping me too busy to write has been a basement sorting project, in which every trash day (which happens to be Thursday) I spend an hour or so hauling junk from my basement directly to the curb. It’s likely that none of you have lived in your current house as long as I’ve lived in mine, and my husband lived here long before I came into the family. In fact, my in-laws built the house in 1949.
That should give you an idea of how much detritus has collected in my basement.
The nice thing about my cleaning project is that I was able to gather all the books I’ve amassed over the years and fit them onto shelves. The bookshelves happen to be in two different parts of the basement, but at least my books are not in piles on the floor or even stacked in layers on the shelves. They are all standing neatly in proper rows, just as good little books should do.
And such treasures I uncovered! All the Susan Howatch books about the Episcopal priest (the “High Flyer” series), all of Gail Godwin’s novels, Virginia Woolf’s diaries and letters, a serious collection of classics from all genres, dating back to my college days in the early 1980’s, and everything ever written by or about Sylvia Plath with whom I was obsessed for most of my 20’s.
At breakfast this morning with another of my reading friends, I was telling her about all the great books I uncovered that haven’t been read in years and that bear re-reading.
“I haven’t kept any books,” she told me. After I picked my jaw up off the floor -for this is a woman who never went into a bookstore empty handed, and I assumed her collection was vast – I asked why.
“I don’t have time to re-read them, so why should I keep them?” she said. “There’s too many other books out there I want to read.”
Here is a woman who has been reading ravenously for over 60 years and has nothing concrete to show for it.
The thought of all those books gone by the wayside was dizzying.
It’s good that I was sitting down.
So I’ve been making mental lists about where my re-reading will take me. One of the nicer things about being over 50 is that books you read 20 or 30 years ago often take on an entirely different meaning when read with the insight and wisdom of “older” age and the experience that comes with it.
I’ll admit, I’ve made more than a few trips down into my basement to admire my collections, all assembled neatly in one place. I’ve been pretty ruthless with the things that have gone into the trash the past few weeks, none of which included books.
And I know that wherever I end up living, the books will definitely be going with me.