Ah, spring! Time for tulips, green grass, baby calves frolicking in the fields, and spring cleaning! My husband and I have been in the process of downsizing for a while now (or “rightsizing” as we Baby Boomers prefer), so spring cleaning is sort of an ongoing thing at our house. I’ve had no trouble at all sorting through clothes, linens, dishes, pots and pans, and even jewelry. So many items have found new homes or been relegated to the recycle bins. But there’s one problem. Our house is chock full of books, and I can’t seem to let them go.
My husband and I once fantasized about selling everything we own and buying a sailboat to sail around the world. We figured we could generate enough income via the internet to keep the galley stocked, and we could stay in touch with friends and family via e-mail. Only one thing—well, besides the fact that neither of us knew how to sail—was stopping us. What would we do with all our books?
It’s not that we never give a book away, sell a book at a garage sale, or take a stack of books to a used bookstore. We just don’t seem to have done any of those things frequently enough. Hardbacks, paperbacks, pocket-sized volumes and coffee table tomes…our house is full of books.
Even with all the moves over the years, we both still have textbooks from college courses we took in the late sixties. I saved valuable texts like the Norton Anthology of English Literature and the Harbrace College Handbook. He, on the other hand, has texts titled (I’m not making this up) Engineering Economy, Applied Regression Analysis, and Principles of Operations Research with Application to Managerial Decisions, copyright 1969. Now, excuse me, but William Blake will always be William Blake and the tiger burns just as brightly “in the forests of the night” in 2015 as he did in 1967. However, any manager needing advice based on what was known about systems operations in 1969 is probably managing a push broom—if that!
In addition to nonfiction titles and novels, we have a complete library of children’s books. Now I’m reading Dr. Seuss favorites like Hop on Pop, Mr. Brown is Out of Town and The Foot Book to a second generation. I suppose I could forgo the set of 1975 Encyclopedia Britannica Junior (minus Vol. 16, which one of my sons left at school), but I couldn’t abandon Tuggy the Tugboat for the most luxurious sailboat made!
We also have travel guides to every place we’ve ever been or dreamed of going. Those would come in handy on the sailboat, but where would we put them? At least I could toss overboard those for inland locations, like Beijing: An Illustrated Guide. We would need one whole foot locker to hold those classics we plan to read some day, including the Complete Works of William Shakespeare and the Complete Novels of Jane Austen, and another for the books we bought but haven’t read yet. We’d need all the books we’ve saved from foreign languages we’ve taken so we could look up how to ask directions to the post office in every port, and I’d need my full supply of cookbooks in the galley, with titles spanning trends from fondu to gluten-free.
You may be wondering why we don’t just read books on an electronic reader like a Kindle or Nook. Well, we do. But somehow that hasn’t replaced the joy of holding a book in hand and turning the pages one by one.
Although we do own a book titled Sailing for Dummies, I doubt we’ll opt for the sailing fantasy. Far more likely is that we’ll move to a smaller house with a lot less stuff—except for the books stacked floor to ceiling in every room!