I am doing it today,
culling my books,
reducing my stacks and stacks
of unmet promises to read them all
and to save them from loss in some shredder.
Save the world one book at a time was my unspoken motto.
Damn the Nazis! You don’t burn books.
It is going well.
I’ve two large shopping bags full of familiar covers I never cracked.
Then there is the pile of gifts, all inscribed to me by I people I love.
Those are staying.
And the fairy tales, Celtic, Italian, Russian, Nordic Troll Tales;
those I’m keeping, but then again, will I ever read them again?
I’ve a sneaking suspicion that my idea to keep a stash of folk tales
and history books for my grandchildren to discover sometime in the future
when they’re packing up my stuff will not be quite the cool find they’re hoping for.
But they do know I am a book freak, so I am sure they’ll have an inkling that I’ve left them a message.
I cannot discard the dictionaries, hard cover and paperback; and that earmarked Roget’s Thesaurus? They don’t make them like that anymore. And that HUGE Rodale’s The Synonym Finder I bought after Renee Moffatt Thompson posted that she bought one…SO worth the buy. They don’t make men like J I Rodale anymore, either. Did you know he died while appearing on the Dick Cavett show? Literally died right there on the sofa. Yep.
Not letting these 1915 school geography books go…nor these two 1885 books of Mom’s advising good manners for wicked children.
The crumbling copy of Narcissus and Goldmund I bought in 1970 -Hesse caught the great angst of life, and the moment when Goldmund, who has charmed his way through life with his beautiful face, escaping the monastery, surviving the Black Plague, losing his beloved, attaining stature as an artist…that very moment when he looks into a mirror, and is shocked to see the face of an old man looking back at him…and he returns to the abbey to find Narcissus still high on himself. I’ve never forgotten that moment, and now, an old woman, have experienced that same shock in front of my own mirror.
All the other Hesse tomes, Siddhartha, Beneath the Wheel, The Glass Bead Game; all appealing to the pathos of my 18, 19, 20 year old mind and soul. I gave Wandering, along with small sketch book and travel sized charcoal pencils to a man I met online who was making a trek through Austria. I don’t know if he appreciated it, but I enjoyed the thought of him hiking from hostel to hostel, peak to peak, stopping to sketch the view and to comment on the topography, like Hesse as he started up the Alps lamenting that though he wished it were not true, he could never be like the farmer whose hut he captured in chalk. I should have kept that book, blast it.
Oh, I cannot discard Exodus by Leon Uris. The newspaper announcement of Ben Gurion’s death is folded in there. That stays. and this copy of The Elements of Style by Shrunk and White… gotta keep that…AND E B White’s This is New York…describing the moment that B-17 hit the Empire State Building, and he feared the war in Europe had arrived here.
SEE WHAT HAPPENS? I start with a firm purpose – to quickly clear my shelves, carry the sacks and boxes to the car, then drive faster than a rolling O to Good Will to leave them without looking back…
and I WILL…I will…
I just need to finish this one chapter, “Other Water Borders” in Mary Austin’s 1903 The Land of Little Rain…it just grabs me how she describes the murder of one rancher by another over water rights…”Jesus Montana…(contesting the right to the water from Tulle Creek with Amos Judson)…walked into five of Judson’s bullets and his eternal possessions on the same occasion.” Stark, absolute homicide without profanity or crass description, or pity. Imagine thinking like that to put it in writing…then reading it for the first time, gasping at the image.
I’ll keep this one on the shelf a while longer.
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Post Script: I AM loading up the car today with the few books I can bear to spare. I know, since the Universe detests a void, new books will soon fill the spaces…MWAHAHAAAA… oh, that reminds me, where IS that old copy of Tales of a Wayside Inn?