Invigorated by 4 and a half CONTINUOUS hours of sleep one night last week, I started on a project that should have been undertaken two years ago. I began to sort through my boxes of books.
I SHOULD have done this two years ago when it was time to collect them from the apartment I had shared with my ex-husband. Emotionally I couldn’t sort anything at that point so all of my belongings went into boxes and then to storage to be sorted later, including four bookcases full of books.
Last winter when Roger and I were looking for an apartment big enough for us and the peanut, we were also considering the books. ‘This one has a built-in bookcase!’ or ‘We’d never fit a baby in here let alone the books!’…you get the idea. The books were the fourth member of the household. The apartment we ended up with has a nice size living room and we were able to fit in my piano and two large Ikea Billy bookcases. I added a small bookcase to my side of the bedroom and acknowledged the sad fact that I would need to cull my collection. We were a month away from the birth of our baby though and I lacked the energy. Nesting was not something that ever happened to me. My sister had come to town to help us move and I told her to just throw the craft and hardcover books on the shelves while I elevated my swollen ankles. We put the rest of the boxes of books in the spare closet in the nursery and closed the door.
It’s a year later now and opening some of these boxes releases that distinct odor of stored books. Sad paperbacks that long to breathe air and have their pages read again. Books don’t like to be boxed up. They die faster that way it seems to me. The pages are yellower, the aroma stronger…I need to set them free. So while Jack attempted to climb wobbly towers of sorted books (a pile to keep, a pile to donate, a pile to sell…) I tried to catalog them on my laptop. My plan is to list them on Craigslist first and then to list the leftovers on Paperbackswap.com. After that I’ll take them on to Housing Works as I’ve found that leaving books on Paperback Swap indefinitely doesn’t really work for me. I don’t have the space to just leave stacks of books hanging around! And in any case, I think newer items move faster on PB Swap, the longer they sit, they less they get seen and impulsively chosen. Not sure how things will go on Craigslist either as I’ve never sold books there…we shall see!
I think I managed to get through roughly half of the boxes in the closet. THIS is the scene in the living room right now:
I plan to take the cash from Craigslist and my Paperback Swap credits to purchase/receive books for Jack. Books for books. This works for me and eases some of the pain of letting go. It was difficult to go through those boxes – and I’m only half done! There’s the book I bought in London to read on my flight home from my birthday trip. The novels I traded with a friend in high school. My Lucy Maud Montgomery books that I bought one by one with babysitting money at the mall in middle school… I love them all, but it’s time to say goodbye and give someone else a crack at them. The stacks of random NYTimes best sellers are easier to let go somehow. I never did like the popular kids as much as the odd balls, you know? In any case, watching Jack ignore all the stuffed animals and toys on the shelves in his room in favor of flipping through books is amazing. I want to stock those shelves with books he’ll remember for always.
When he wakes up from his nap and wants nothing more than to cuddle in the rocking chair and have me read him story after story my heart melts. I want to bottle those moments and save them forever. I’ll let my old books go out into world and bring some new (or new to us) books into the house and make new friends and favorites. I think one little boy I know will be very, very happy.