I woke up two weeks ago on Sunday morning feeling like I needed to clean out my bookshelves.
Most of you are probably nodding your head. A few of you, those who know me in real life, or worse yet, have been to my house, are recoiling in horror.
Let me try and give you some perspective. Mr. Spit and I have a rider on our home insurance to cover our books in case of fire and flood. We have library software. Not enough perspective? People call us when they can’t find a book. You would be surprised how many times we have been able to help. Still not enough? I have 20 copies of the Bible in various translations – I feel like I should tell you – my degree isn’t in theology.
You can go through an almost entire life as you sort through books. The books that were given to you as gifts (I kept those.) The book you picked up at the second hand sale, the book you picked up because you needed a reference. I have books from when I was a youth pastor, I have books on marriage from our early days when we were trying to sort things out. I have 15 books on becoming a manager. I have excel reference books for the last 3 editions of excel. I have grammar books, project management books. Text books from University.
The collected works of Ken Follet? Got ’em. All of the Tom Clancy books? Check. The entire Lord Peter Wimsey series? Present. Every Nancy Drew book from the second edition? Those are on the top left shelf in the dinning room. I collected them as a little girl.
Books were and are a form of security for me. All of that knowledge, laid out in straightforward format, in black and white, organized into a table of contents and indexed in the back. All of those adventures, some of my oldest friends, waiting for me on page 1, ready to pick up, where we left off.
My default response is to look for a book. I am never without a book in my briefcase, in my purse.
I have a relationship with books. A complex and multifaceted one to be sure, but a relationship. And on Sunday morning I started to pile books on my dinning room table. Some were easy – books left over from my very fundamentalist Christian days were pulled off the shelf with nothing more than a “Wow! Has my attitude ever changed on that!”. Some of the piles, the books about perinatal demise, they came harder. A few of those stayed – not because I needed them but because I will have them when someone else does.
The books Mr. Spit bought on being a dad? I pulled them off the shelf and held them to my chest, closing my eyes and wincing. The text book from an economics course that I flunked? It went on the pile because I’m never taking that course again. The Roget’s Thesaurus from 1991 that is in the old format (non alphabetized): I mourned that we no longer read thesauri and dictionaries, mostly because while a computer and website is faster, you will never run across a word you haven’t seen before. So much ephemeral knowledge is lost.
Some of it is hard. My Nancy Drew’s, Mr. Spit’s set of Children’s Bible Stories – we have no need of them and yet we hang on to them. I simply don’t know what to do with them.
I have no idea how many books this is. The shelves look more empty. I have returned things to a state where I don’t have to double shelve books, I can fit them in using only one row, and that’s something.
Mostly, as I am getting ready to box things up, I am sorting through things and I am thinking that I used to believe that I needed that knowledge. I needed to read the book on Christianity and Capitalism, so that I would be smart. Now? I know that I need to know a lot less than I ever dreamed of.
On that note – I have all of the Nancy Drew books in the yellow binding. All of them from the Secret in the Old Clock to the end of the series. I collected them second hand when I was a little girl. I have no need of them and no one to pass them on to. If you or a little girl you know would like them, please send me a note, and we can arrange shipping. I should like them to go to a new home and find a new person to have adventures with.