Thursday Thoughts

Well, hello.

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.

How about you? Have you saved books over the years? Do you plan to re-read them, or do you just like knowing they’re in your possession? 




13 thoughts on “Thursday Thoughts

  1. I rearranged my books lately, after Mister LItlove made me a new bookcase, and it was wonderful to go through my collection again and find all sorts of books I’d forgotten about. I’m so delighted you have come across so many books you long to reread – that sounds like an excellent project! (And like you’d I’d be sad too, to have read so many books over the years and have nothing to show for it, no collection I want to read again.)

  2. There are so many books I long to re-read, but I’m always afraid that coming at them ten, twenty, thirty or even (horrors) forty years later I will find that they didn’t bear re-reading and my memories of the pleasure I had the first time round will be destroyed. I hope that doesn’t happen to you.

  3. I am–to the horror and agony of my patience-of-a-saint wife–a hoarder of books. I find it difficult to give away any of the books I’ve collected over the years, in the hopes that someday I’ll get around to reading them. At nearly 8,000 volumes (mostly fiction), this has become a serious problem.

    Buying a Kindle has helped me cut down (slightly) on the collection crowding the shelves in my basement. But it’s also resulted in enticing me to buy more books (e-books).

    As for re-reading? Ha! I’m so busy trying to keep up with the books flowing in, I have little time to go back to the ones I really love (though I’ve made some exceptions this past year for classics by Charles Dickens and Flannery O’Connor).

    • The friend I mentioned in my post reads exclusively on e-readers now. I don’t know how long she keeps books on there, but I suspect they tend to remain on her “virtual” shelf for quite a while!

  4. Yep, I keep my books (not counting those that I check out from the library, obviously). My collection of books is much smaller than yours. However, I’m jealous of all the books…especially the Slyvia Plath related ones. I love Slyvia Plath, and I actually found The Unabridged Journals of Slyvia Plath during a trip to one of the used bookstores that I frequent. It was definitely a day-maker in my bookish world. 🙂

  5. I like knowing they are in my possession, and I keep the ones I know I will want to reread. Sadly, I keep finding I gave too many away when I made a big move 12 years ago, and I”m still filling holes in my library – currently restocking Stephen King, which I want to re-read and see how I enjoy this time around.

    I love this post, by the way, I feel much the same way you do, especially about the falling jaw at the women who gives them all away after reading! I couldn’t do that…

  6. Space needs and various house moves have reduced my collection. I used to keep every book!

    Now if it’s something I am unlikely to return to, I figure I can get it from the library when/if needed again. But if it’s the kind of book I am likely to want to pull out on the spur of the moment (for a favorite quote, a re-read, or just a breath of fresh air), it’s a keeper.

    How nice for you to have so many good ones still on hand!

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