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Saturday, August 9, 2008

Thunder and lightning and books

See that picture? That's not how Toronto looks today. Oh no. The skies have opened up and the rain is torrential. There is lightning. There is deep rolling thunder. I am baking white chocolate banana bread. Who bakes in August? Trust me, it's that kind of day.

The photo was taken last weekend, off the balcony of my son's new apartment. Not only does it have a dynamite downtown view, but the view of the lake is killer as well. Last Saturday we had a bit of rain, today we have a major storm. I feel badly for all those who I know had parties or wedding receptions planned.

It has been a different week than normal. Terra (our dog) is mopey; she wonders where her "brother" is, I know. As for the captain and I, we are doing well. We are actually both quite stoked to have full access to our basement again, and have begun the cleaning purge I have wanted to do now for quite some time. We've thrown a lot of stuff away over the past few days, plus I have already put together a full box of magazines and seven (!) heavy boxes of books to take to the Goodwill. And we haven't even finished going through all the bookcases downstairs, let alone start in on the bookcase on the back porch, the two in the front hall and the others. Yes, there are more.

I love books. Every kind. Trashy paperback novels, classic literature, reference tomes, best-sellers, cookbooks. Oh, the cookbooks. Thousands. Really. Books are precious to me and for years and years, I would not part with a single one. I was also aghast at those who altered books; I thought it was a sacrilege. But now I happily alter books myself, recognizing that I am saving those books from a likely landfill demise. And I finally came to terms with the fact that in this small bungalow I cannot possibly keep a huge library. I sought advice from my sister-in-law (Hi Heather!) who, along with her novellist hubby, Mike, are avid readers and collectors of books. They too live in a bungalow, although way larger than my home. And they too have no problem with bookcases gracing many walls. But no matter how large the home, there are limits. I thought her advice was sound: if we're gathering up a series (like Sue Grafton's alphabet mysteries, for example), we keep 'em; if they're by a favourite author, say Stephen King or Jane Austen, we keep 'em; if we need 'em for reference, we keep 'em; if we know we'll read them again, they're keepers -- everything else goes once it's been read.

And so I've slowly been applying that philosophy to my own book collection. I get more books from the library now; I can read them then just return them. And it's strangely cathartic to see boxes of books leaving the house, books that I did enjoy but know I'll never read or use again. Let someone else get some pleasure from them. Even cookbooks and gardening books have been labelled goners. Do you keep a lot of books? Novels, art books, cookbooks like me? I will always have a large book collection, but it slowly is becoming much more manageable. And with empty bookshelf space, I can buy more books!


noble pig said...

Oh I know what you mean. I am unable to let go of books. I just adore them, and magazines, I love magazines. I still don't know what to do with all mine but your's is a good philosophy I should take heart too.

nancy said...

Hey Len, I'm feeling much better, let me know if you need! I'm sure
Terra would love to see me! When's the hot tub going in!? Call me, Nancy

nancy said...

Hey Len, I just realized I ment to say "need help" Nancy

Kristin said...

Do we keep a lot of books? Does Bill Gates keep a lot of money? The books in our house . . . my God. Generations of accumulation, plus our penchant for going to library book sales and buying random books for 25 cents apiece, mean that there is not one single room in our house that does not contain books. And that goes for the bathrooms, too.

I go to the library myself--it's my husband and MiL who have the problem.

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