Tuesday, 15 December 2009
On books and bookshelves
I've been moving my books to new bookshelves, in a new location.
Shouldn't make much difference. Shouldn't be a big deal. Still the same books, right?
But it is making a BIG difference. And I am discovering it is more of a process that a simple relocation of objects.
First, there is the removing them from the old shelves. I can't just take them off and stick them into boxes. I need to look at each one...maybe read a line or two. Remember where I got it, or who gave it to me, or what I thought about the book.
Then there is a keep or release decision to make. I have a big bag of books ready to meet new readers sometime soon. Books I read, and liked, but which seem ready to move on.
There are the books that must remain accessible and with me until the last minute. They cannot occupy a new home until I do. These books sit now, on dusty shelves with only the odd bits of paper or small treasures for company. These are the books I would take with me, if I was forced to travel light.
I am moving the books a few reusable shopping bags at a time. Boxes are too heavy and awkward for the stairs I must go down to get to my car. I find that I pick and choose as I fill the bags, as though there needs to be a relationship between the books in each.
And then when the books arrive at their new home (my soon-to-be new home), they must be placed on shelves. Another moment to look at each.
I am trying not to arrange them yet, except where size dictates a certain shelf. Big decorating books on the bottom. Paperbacks just fit into that narrow shelf.
I will arrange them on a rainy day when they have all been moved. For now, Judaica rubs elbows with physics, and mysteries sit side-by-side with a graphic novel and a book on raising ethical children.
The first two bookcases are full now. These tall black shelves stand a full foot or so higher than my old battle-scarred Bauder bookcases purchased years ago and in another state. The new shelves make the books look different. The colors of the bindings are more noticeable. The patterns they make fascinate me. I look at them, remember the travels some of these books have made, from one side of the country to the other and back again, and realize that there is almost as much to read on the outside of these books as in their pages.
I haven't moved my clothes yet. Or my furniture or my dishes or the toys. My antiques and my scrapbooking supplies still occupy their old spaces.
The books are the first to make the journey and stake out my place in a new home. And that precious few that remain on old shelves will be the last to go with me as I turn the key for the last time on my old space. Books as bookends to a new life...