Friday, May 6, 2011


Books are somehow way more personal to me than clothes.

  My friend Keetha writes of her reluctance to part with any book, no matter how old, how read or unread---even the ones she had tried repeatedly to read and lost interest or just downright disliked. I find myself echoing her quote above, for I’ve had a lifelong Love Affair with books---all kinds.

 I grab them up and covet them and browse shelves and stacks and tables at stores and sales, charity shops, people’s curbstones of set-out discards. No yard sale goes unscanned as we pass, for the piles and boxes of books yield treasures untold. And VERY few of my own can I ever part with. I’ll share, the borrowers will forget, and only I will have a small pang (or a lingering one---re: the childhood Nancy Drews) for the losing of them. I remember about three titles in all my reading history which I’ve actually walked to the trashcan and hurled them in.

And hurl I did, for only the most disgusting or Pure-D boring bear such treatment, and then, they have to go way over the top on either front, and those certainly did, thus the fling amongst the coffee-grounds and eggshells which buried the offenders and contaminated them beyond reprieve.

I do not believe that the books vs. clothes on the popularity scale is actually CAUSED by my own dislike of shopping---whether occasioned by the stern sales-ladies tsk-tsk sympathy for my Mother’s having been saddled with such a chunky little dumpling to buy garments for, or simply that I don’t care much WHAT I wear, so long as it’s clean and comfortable and modest as well as being reasonably appropriate for the occasion.

But oh, BOOKS!!! I like them---heavy, thin, wordy, spare, old and tattered, filled with margin-notes and highlighting, inscribed, autographed, well-read, or with that enticing smell of fresh pages, untouched before my hands, like a new morning brimming with promise. And so I’m with Keetha---with a small addition or two: Books are somehow way more personal (important, valuable, interesting, vital to my well-being) than clothes.

How do you feel about keeping/tossing/donating/sharing/parting with books? Are there some you’ve actually tossed in the trash?


Beverly said...

I'm with you on this subject. I only remember ever tossing one book. It was an awful book I read as part of a book club. It was Jane Austen in Scarsdale. And, it was quite painful.

Chesapeake said...

Oh, my! Talking as a librarian, I had to toss lots of outdated books, including dictionaries (look up "computer" in a 1960s dictionary!), and would gleefully get into that project, which could indeed at times include flinging them! However, mine own books are a whole 'nother story. Have boxes and boxes of them in the storage shed, mostly organized by author.

Yesterday, seeking an outing for the nearly-90-year-old mother, hit upon a library's book sale. Can you imagine a paper grocery sack for $5.00? I only got 2 bags, and that only because the mater got tired and wanted to go! Yup, nice day!

Do I need to bring back all the Diane Mott Davidson's that I scoffed up from your bookshelves a couple years ago?

Southern Lady said...

Our house and attic are overrun with books, and it is painful for me to part with any of them.

I have to admit, though, that most of Danielle Steel's books make me want to toss them, although I'm probably the only person in the world who feels that way about her writing. Her constant repetition drives me up the wall, and I can't enjoy the story because of it.

I'm curious about which three you tossed, Rachel, and would love to read a list of your favorite "Top Ten" books of all time.

Best wishes to you, my friend, for a very happy and memorable Mother's Day celebration.

Kim Shook said...

This is so funny, Rachel! I have reams of notes in a Word document all about books and how they have taken over my house and where I get them and how hard they are to part with! I certainly treasure them more than any piece of clothing I have. Some of them are old friends that I visit again and again. I have mysteries that I reread and find that I’ve forgotten ‘who done it’. I have a little children’s book shelf in case I get little visitors. Besides, I like to visit with Frog and Toad occasionally. And what would Christmas be without attending the marvelous party at Mole’s little house with caroling mice and Ratty’s clever party planning? There is not a stitch of clothing that I wouldn’t trade for a Miss Marple or an Anne!

Cape Coop said...

Ladies, I own over 5,000 books, down from 18,000 a few years ago. I intend to finish this year with only my fiance's paltry few thousand, a thousand for my daughter, and perhaps 500 of my own. I am weary of owning books in boxes and have no place for our collections. Amazon and auctions, out they go!

Tonja said...

Books! I love them! The feel, the smell, the look! I hesitate to admit this, though, but I do have a few articles of clothing that are very dear to me and I would never want to part with. Does that make me unqualified for the 'book lovers'club? The only ones that I have thrown away are the ones I would be embarressed for anyone to ever know I owned. Most of these thrown away soon after beginning the book. Whether for language, or bigotry, or explicit sex scenes...I was sad I had spent my money for them...and wanted no one to ever know I did!

sparrowgrass said...

Reading is an addiction for me--I am seldom without a book to hand. But--I am not much of a book collector. I have a certain amount of room in my house, and when the bookshelves begin to overflow, and books end up in stacks and piles, I do not feel pain when I 'weed' them. I can't really remember ever tossing any into the trash (unless I had dropped them into the pool or the tub, two of my favorite places to read) but I do take boxes and bagfuls to the thrift store for 'recycling'.

I do sometimes save books that I think I would like to read again--but not always. I can almost always find books to reread at the library, or at, a fantastic group of used book stores. I guess I store my library out in the world, instead of having dusty stacks in my own house.

Most of my everyday reading material comes from the library, so that storage is not my problem--I just borrow six or so every two weeks, and take them back when I am done.

I don't really see books as sacred, the way a lot of people do. Instead, they are a tool to get the author's thoughts into my head as efficiently as possible. So, if they are my books, most of which come from thrift stores, I don't hesitate to dog ear, or bend the cover back to make it easier to turn pages. I even (gasp) have been know to split a paperback in two to make it easier to read.

Efficiency is why I like my e-reader--it has its own little light, I can make the print bigger if I need to, and it currently has about 70 books stored in a space smaller and lighter than a big paperback. Great for traveling! Most of the books on the ereader are old ones--public domain books are available in many places on line for free.

I was a librarian, and I learned there that not being able to find a book is just the same as not having it--that is why you won't see any boxes or double shelved books at my house. And having outdated reference books is worse than having no reference books at all.

My secretary says, "Oh, I know there is stuff in that book that is outdated, but everyone can figure out what is good and what is old." Nope--just ain't so. Most folks take what is written in books as the truth, and can't sort out what is current and what isn't--they are reading to learn, and what is the point of reading incorrect information?

That said, I must admit that I have some old agriculture tomes and housekeeping/recipe/medical books--it is fun to see what folks believed years ago. And I do keep them out where I can look at them and admire them--my shelves are full of books, just not overful.