09 October 2013

But my books? Never.

I'm packing up my room tonight.  My lovely little corner of the world that has been a sanctuary from the stress that has surrounded it for the last several years.  I'm thrilled with the change and excited to set up shop somewhere that will be more mine than this place has been.  Somewhere more friendly.

I'm also reminded of how many books I have when the boxes I procured are quickly filled not with the rest of my room but almost entirely with my book collection.  Putting them into boxes fills me with mixed emotions.  I see books that are worn bare and think that I ought to buy a new copy but the old one is so loved and has such a story to tell and I wouldn't want to hurt its feelings.  I see books that I bought in important places or locations that remind me of trips or lucky finds after wandering through the labyrinthine shelves of a used bookstore.  I see books that I purchased but haven't read yet and want to, books that I was given as gifts.

I'm reminded of lessons in elementary school about how you should have an emergency kit underneath your bed that contains food and clothes in case of an emergency.  I remember thinking as a kid that I would ditch the clothes and grab my beloved copy of Little Women - the first pretty book I ever purchased with my own money.  It was hardback with a ribbon and beautiful illustrations.  I'd also grab Anne of Green Gables and all of its sequels because I'd need them with me wherever I went next.  But what about The Secret Garden?  Or Matilda?  Or Peter Pan?

I am almost certain that, given an emergency situation, I would burn in the fire or die in the flood over the sheer agony of the debate in trying to decide which books to save.  I know they are replaceable. . . but it would feel like betrayal.

It all reminds me of the Professor in Little Women.  Jo asks him if he brought all his books from Germany.  He explains that he had to sell basically everything to come to America.  "But my books," he says with a smile, "Never."

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