Too many books. Too little time.

My lease is up. My flight’s booked. The bookshelves are cleared. Big bags of books sit by the door, ready for a charity shop. So what do I do? Walk into a nearby bookshop. Most sections have friends waiting for me so I wander in to see who’s there. I read a bit, but don’t bite. It’s hard not to, but I’ll be back. That’s a promise. It just doesn’t feel right, buying more when I’m on a journey to dispose of their cousins.

20151007_132016aIn the next few days I’ll pick up some airplane reading – most likely a crime novel or snarky travel book. Probably not one of those classics that I escaped school without ever reading. I remember Mark Twain’s definition of a classic – something everyone talks about but nobody’s read, like the bible or the US Constitution. Anyway, it’ll be a one or two-night book that won’t break my heart if I leave it somewhere. Nothing particularly serious that would require me to work at serious understanding or appreciation. Sounds rather crass and unfeeling when I put it in those terms, doesn’t it?

I’ve got mixed feelings about giving up these books and the ones in Colorado storage. They’ve been good friends, some for just a few months, others for a long, long while. While I still keep and value a lot of what they’ve given me, I’ll have to admit that ignoring them in piles of boxes is rather rude. It’s not their fault. They’ve done nothing wrong. It’s simply me and my changing life. They’ve nourished me, so now it’s time to free them so they can nourish others.

I’ll be back in a few months. After a few more quick reads while I’m on the road I’ll start a new family in my new home.

9 Comments on “Too many books. Too little time.

  1. Awwww . There is always the library?

    • There is…but there’s an intangible difference between owning and borrowing. And besides, I tend to read several at once, which means there’s a good chance I’ll need to pay attention to due dates and fines.

  2. The more I read of your life the more I realize that you are a rare book that is a reader’s treasure!

    I don’t know if this is proper or even if wanted…but your writing makes me feel like sharing some similar things.

    My reading started early in life…with comic books. A stack of goodies read and traded with neighborhood pals. I’m not sure when the transition was made to real books, but my parent’s library eventually became the focus and new adventure for me sometime in grade school.

    I never could bring myself to borrow from the library. It was just too hard to part with one I’d read. I did indeed love being in our grand library and would search for new books that way…a bit of a preview. Our public library in Dayton back then was much like a castle, a cathedral of beings and their stories. If I found one I loved, I would put it on my list to buy. That list grew. I will try to post the library, long ago torn down to be replaced by the sixties box building style. Such a loss.

    Strangely I learned early that most folks didn’t have an affinity for books, but then rarely finding people that shared my feelings and thoughts about things I valued. As an only child you get used to having your own world and dreams, always separate and usually different from others. It was just the way life worked, for me.

    Others would voice their opinions about my way. I overheard one say they thought
    Fahrenheit 451 was probably one of my weird books on temperatures, while others thought I was insane to travel on tour with a bunch of books I’d already read. And so many times I’d meet people that had no books in their houses. None. I couldn’t count how many people I met that felt reading was a torture and owning a book just frivolous. I once overheard someone say I was a smarty pants for needing a library of my own. Probably a piece of that was true as well. Hah!

    It probably was silly traveling with just a few vital things: guitars, picks, clothes and books, but those books were friends and teachers and comforted me. They rode with me, driving from gig to gig, and city to city like a portable thought family. And then, in time, settled in NJ, so many had to live in boxes in place of children’s books and toys.

    After several lifetimes we landed here, in Wake Forest, NC, with all books in tow, divorced from old husband, a collection of guitars and instruments, married to new and much improved husband, with children grown.

    Mark promised he’d build me a library once we arrived in North Carolina and fulfilled that promise converted one of our rooms to shelves from ceiling to floor so that each paper friend would finally have its own place. And yet they still overflowed! I needed to correct this.

    When I found Edward McKay’s used book store, I thought I’d found an answer. Hah! Oh my. This was hard and is still in progress. Culling my friends? Trading my family? I had spent years reading fiction, classics, obscure works, books by friends and then a long period of non-fiction. But, I can do this!

    Alas, I’ve ended up trading many old friends for art books, huge art books, that earlier I could have never afforded. Picture books…again. Ha-hah! Circles.

    The line from Jaws comes to mind: “We’re gonna need a bigger boat” .

    (If this is too long and whatever, just consider it an email and don’t print it…I will understand.)

    Link to photo of old library…couldn’t copy and paste it.

    • THANK YOU! for your thoughts, your feelings, for sharing such an important part of your life. We could probably sit and trade stories and story memories for hours. What I’m thinking of right now are the heavy art books I picked up in European museums and stuck in my pack to bring back to America, leaving my clothes and other stuff across the continent. Most – but not all – of those books eventually found their way to The Reader’s Corner on H’boro Street. And it takes a major effort to control the impulse to buy the exhibit guides whenever I leave a gallery or museum that’s really made an impression on me.

      • Oh, the joy of seeing these works in person! Someday maybe I’ll get to see them in person. You have lived a rich life Jim. Hopefully there will be a time to sit and exchange and share-hear our life stories. But for now, your electronic words will have to suffice. I look forward to your adventures!

        • Don’t forget that you create some magnificent work yourself. And your online presence with it reaches far more people than all those dead white guys ever reached in their lifetimes.

  3. When I relocated, getting rid of most (unlike you, not all) of my books was tough. I couldn’t find good homes for them: No one/business/organization wanted used books, making their disposal gut wrenching. (Maybe that’s why I’m having Gastro problems!).
    I think it is time for you to get a kindle.

    • I feel your pain [well, in a somewhat different sense]. But every time I hear the word Kindle, I think of Fahrenheit 451. I’m not going to say no to one, but after years of life in parts of the world where reliable electricity for a recharge is somewhat questionable, I’ll still drag my feet on an e-reader. And then there’s the tactile joy of holding a book, turning pages, dog-earing them, making margin notes. And hell, just holding something that’s organic, not electric. [We can text, email or Skype about the other differences.]

  4. I LOVE LOVE LOVE my books. Big reason I can’t just pack up and go, and aren’t interested in doing so. Of course, the six dogs also are an added factor.

    I keep telling myself no new books until I read through what I have but sometimes, as you phrase it …. there’s a friend waiting to meet.

    ~Laurel <3 <3