April 28, 2014

Security blanket books

All readers have them...books that live, dog-eared, highlighted, margin-noted, coffee-stained, and torn, upon our shelves. The books that we lend, and rebuy, gift, and re-read a hundred times because in their pages we find solace, answers, and new insight each time.

I'm in the process of, once again, going through each room of the house, discarding and "spring cleaning". It's a yearly ritual, usually undertaken in December and right before summer, when the sun shines through the dirty windows, casting a finger-wagging halo around the dust and the grime of the dark months.

It doesn't help that I'm a pack-rat (as are all the members of my little hoarding family) and that I place importance on all kinds of useless items, sure that I'll use them sometime, for a project or something. Nor does it help that I suffer from bibliomania. Quite honestly, it's the hardest thing for me to get rid of.

I can pack mountains of clothes, linens, dishes, toys, even furniture into the back of the truck and drive it on down to my local thrift store, but the concept of giving away, selling, or otherwise losing my precious words is heresy.

But...that's just what I'm doing today. And you're along for the ride.

First, let's hit the poetry section


The discard pile.  Somehow...I don't think this is going to so so well.

Doing better...

Even better...

The husband's shelves (can't discard anything without him here...)

Two boxes...including a few from the boy's shelves (way to go, kiddo!)

So, several hours later (somehow, organizing and discarding - that sounds so mean - books, turned into cleaning the office, which was an all-day task), the bookshelves are organized and dusted, I have two boxes for the thrift store, and the office is clean!!  I even managed to open up a little room for the boy to have his desk in there, too, which means we can hand off the little desk in his room to some other lucky little kid (I love re-gifting much-loved items like that).

And, even though I haven't showered yet, and the rest of the house is now a wreck, I feel rather accomplished.

So, now...let's talk about the books I DID keep. Obviously, there are way too many to mention, so I think I'm just going to take it by section...the books I simply could NOT live without...

POETRY: Since poetry is so easy to collect, re-read, and covet, it's hard to let it go, and even hard to determine which is most important...but I'll give it a go.

Richard Jones', The Blessing is probably my top pick here. It's the one book of poetry that I consistently pull off the shelf when I need a fix.  A close second would be Sylvia Plath's Collected Poems.

CLASSICS (Male Authors):

The Rainbow by D.H. Lawrence
Lolita by Vladimir Nabakov
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare


A Writer's Paris by Eric Maisel


Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel
Refugee by Terry Tempest Williams
In the Wilderness and Hungry for the World by Kim Barnes


A Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman

CLASSICS (Female Authors):

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Mansfield Park by Jane Austen


I'll just mention here, also, that I have entire sections devoted to Henry Miller, Anais Nin, Anne Rice, Diana Gabaldon, Amy Tan, and Marian Zimmerman Bradley.

Aside from those, I'll mention these important texts...

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts
Snow Falling on Cedars by David Gutterson
Mariette in Ecstacy by Ron Hansen
The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
Talk Before Sleep by Elizabeth Berg
While I Was Gone by Sue Miller
Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
A Map of the World and The Book of Ruth by Jane Hamilton

I honestly didn't realize that contemporary fiction would be the hardest section to narrow down. Always thought of myself as a classics girl, but, quite honestly, I have a feeling most of these titles will be remembered for awhile. And they certainly are what I'd call "literary fiction"...meaning these are just your brainless beach reads (I like those, too, but they aren't keepers...I hand those off to the first person who wants them).

I also have a small stack of books I've collected (or been given) that were written by Abraham Cowley, a metaphysical poet who studied under John Donne. He's a distant relative, and I've taken it upon myself to collect all of his books. A pricey venture to be sure...but something I way I can hand down my love of books to my son.

And there you have it...I'll let my mother and mother-in-law dig through the boxes first (our family came by this book-hoarding thing honestly)...then off to the thrift store.

I wonder what room I'll tackle next weekend? My goal is to get through the whole house BEFORE summer break this year, so I can devote my break to something other than cleaning house. Good intentions...path to hell...and all that...

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