An accessory to being a writer is being a reader. The love of words, whether my own or those of others I admire, is part of the suit I inhabit in the world. I have a library of over 1,000 volumes, hardback and paperback, most in my writing room/library/cat boudoir. There are books in every room of the house. My husband claims every horizontal surface has books on it. I have read most, reread many. Some are on my To Be Read list that I acquired at too-good-to-miss sales at the library and elsewhere. I wonder at times if my library is a subliminal guarantee of eternity as in, I cannot die until I’ve read every book I own. I don’t think so, but it has crossed my mind.
My husband, a man of action not a reader, has come to terms with the love-me-love-my-books attitude and helped transport boxes and boxes from one abode to another over the years. He does not understand the obsession. “Why keep a book you already read?” is his repeated refrain. “Because I love them” is my reply. Even if I don’t reread an entire book, I go back to visit characters or scenes I like. I use books as reference or inspiration when I write. My books have sticky notes and penciled notes in them.
I made a promise (lightly made but mostly kept) to stop adding to the library when I discovered Kindle and Audible. Now I have over 600 Kindle books and nearly the same number of audiobooks that don’t have to be moved in boxes. Two-for-one offers and Kindle free are my downfall. I discovered the digital checkout system, Libby, at the public library and use it for book club books I don’t have and don’t want to purchase. I read two or three books concurrently. The three most recent are Trinity by Leon Uris, Since Then by Sheila Bender, and Lessons in Chemistry (audio) by Bonnie Garmus. Love them all.
I discovered, because of GoodReads, another place to hoard books. It is my “Want to Read” list that feels nearly as satisfactory as a TBR list. I read a review or see books my friends read and put them on the WTR list. It’s free and doesn’t take up space in my home.
Once, several years ago, I decided to organize my library and get rid of books I didn’t NEED. I took every volume off my shelves and put them in the middle of the room in stacks by category. My grandson, then about four, wandered into the room where dozens of stacks reached heights nearly to his shoulder. “Wow, Grandma, you must have a million books”. I, with the coldness of a butcher, put piles of books to be discarded in a corner of the room. Then I asked my best buddies to come over to pick through and take the ones they wanted. We packed up the remainders and I had them take them to the library or Bookman’s or Good Will or wherever they chose. I knew if I took them, I’d end up bringing a few (or many) back because I’d rethink my attachment. I don’t miss them, and I don’t think I repurchased any of them. I didn’t keep a list. My library is again disorganized because I fail to put books back in their assigned place (even with the best intention). Maybe it’s time for reorganization and purge?