August 9, 2017
This past weekend my husband and I tackled a long overdue job—one that we had to do upstairs. This was supposed to be our bedroom/office area. Unfortunately, the renovations, a joint project between my husband and our second son, were never completed after our son died. My husband simply didn’t have the heart for it. There needs only the finishing work to be done: drywall, and some type of finished flooring. Over the years this space has housed bedrooms for my grandkids, and a place for my daughter and her son when they moved in with us for a couple years.
We also use this area for storage, and what called us up there this past weekend was the task of sorting through the thousands of books we have stored up there—some on bookshelves, some in boxes, and some in a very long, sturdy wooden cedar chest.
Yes, my friends, I said thousands of books. The last time my daughter counted them, there were over 4,000. These are mostly paperbacks, though there were a few hard cover books in the lot. Some of the oldest books dating back to the 1940s and before sadly weren’t in good condition—nor were they when they came into our possession.
Our goal, over this past weekend, was to separate the wheat from the chaff, basically. What books did we really want to keep and which ones could we put in a pile to give away?
I know. You’re all still up there at the 4000. Seriously, I think’s closer to 5000 if you count the more recent books, the ones that are down stairs on our 6 bookshelves. You’re probably wondering where all those books came from.
To preface, I will tell you that we’ve always had books, and to top that off, we have had 2 house fires where we lost virtually everything, including our books. My beloved pointed out in the middle of this weekend’s sorting work, that this was indeed our third collection.
When the kids were younger, when we were struggling, and both of us working, each bi-weekly payday we’d give ourselves 20 dollars a piece as our “allowance”. That total of 40 bucks was our entire entertainment budget. And each payday, we would take ourselves to the bookstore at the plaza in the town where we shopped. There, we would each purchase as many books as possible with our allowance.
At the time, I’d begun to read romance, and became somewhat hooked on some of the monthly release lines, like Silhouette Desire and Harlequin Loveswept, and other lines, too. Those books were fairly inexpensive. My beloved actually liked historical romance, and he read those long before I did. He’d also buy other action adventure books.
When we each finished reading our books, we’d often swap and read each other’s. As I said, that was our entertainment. We also bought a fair number of books at garage sales. “You can have the entire box for five bucks!” What a deal that was for us, a deal only topped by the time we bought a four-piece living room suite for 15 dollars at a garage sale—but that is another story.
Sorting began Saturday morning. I know my husband was expecting a battle; I know he somehow thought that I would want to keep a ton of those books. But that was never in my plans. Yes, there were a few books that I’d really loved. And when I would come across those? Why, they went into the keeper box, no question about it. By the time we called it a day on Saturday, David had accepted I wasn’t going to cling overmuch to the past.
I found all of my old favorites except one; I’m going to post on my face book page about that one, because I don’t recall the title or the author, just the plot.
My reading tastes, and yes, my standards have changed. That’s not a slight against the two lines of books I’ve named, not at all. Anyone who’s watched an episode of an old favorite television series will know what I mean. Books and shows over twenty years old seem less sophisticated when you revisit them; as they should because they reflect the society in which they were produced, and times do change. There’s a kind of social innocence to those pre-global terrorism days that one could almost term halcyon.
I’m grateful to the hundreds of authors who wrote thousands of novels, tiny vehicles of escape and relief. Back in the days before I ever believed I would be a published author, I sank into those simple, happy stories and felt uplifted. Those hours of escape were as good as any vacation I later took.
In the end, we kept about four boxes worth of books, and have twenty-two boxes ready to go—hopefully to good, grateful homes.