Books for me are almost like souvenirs, not necessarily from the places I’ve been, but of the person I was or wanted to be, and of the things I was interested in once upon a time. I feel invested in them, and in more than just a financial sense. A "Literary History of Cambridge” reminds me of a summer spent learning about the history of Cambridge and touring the grounds of the different colleges. "Scotch and Holy Water" and "The March of Folly" leave me nostalgic remembering a trip to Turkey with dear friends and the long talks we had that taught me so much. I found it difficult to part with "The Roman Revolution", a book left over from a class I took while we were living in Nebraska. I was studying civil engineering and geology and pregnant with Anna. I didn't need the class but wanted to take it because I thought it was interesting. It brought back memories of mine and Doug's move to Greece in the fall of '99, the drive we made from England through mainland Europe, and our stop in Rome. I know it may sound silly but books are my vice...okay, and fabric too (I must admit).
There were two reasons I needed to divest myself of these piles of books. One was that I had mentioned to Doug I thought it might be interesting to have a Kindle. Don’t get me wrong. I love libraries, and book stores, and the smell and feel of books. I love the basket of books that sits next to my side of the bed. Travelling with wee ones, however, means the days of carrying 4-5 books in my backpack or purse are no more. Now, diapers, sippy cups, wipes, barbies, toy cars, and crayons have taken the place of my beloved books. Having a Kindle along at a time like that would be most handy. Doug told me if I would clear the books in the garage, he would order a Kindle right away. The other reason was that I took a closer look at myself and began to worry about my tendencies to hold on tightly to things that may just be cluttering my life. While holding on can be an admirable quality (and I come from a long line of holding-on-ers), I caught an episode of "Hoarding: Buried Alive" for the first time the other day. There was a gentleman living in a house stuffed with books, papers, and magazines. It was so bad, he couldn’t use the upstairs of his home at all, and the downstairs was well on its way to being rendered unusable as well. When asked why he chose to keep a newspaper from 25 years ago that had no significant stories in it, he remarked, “I thought it might be good for reference.” It took me aback as the overflowing stack of magazines in a basket in my closet, combined with the huge library of miscellaneous pictures stored on our computer, had all been saved for the exact same reason. I had to save one pile of magazines because there were pictures I wanted to recreate, another pile because of the recipes and entertaining ideas, a third pile had travel ideas galore, a fourth pile for holiday ideas, and none could be totally discarded. Okay, I take that back, occasionally I do go through and discard, ripping out anything of “significance”. One man’s treasures, another man’s junk….right? So, I decided to jump in and declutter before the urge left me. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised at how good it felt, as if a weight had been lifted.
Doug, ever true to his word, ordered a Kindle for me the very next morning and I'm trying not to look back. I am really enjoying the Kindle and am indulging my book mania by downloading a bunch of the classics for free. I've always been interested in trying to read the great books curriculum of St. John's college. The first year is devoted to Greek authors, the second year covers Roman classics as well as works from the medival and Renaissance periods. The third and fourth years take you through the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. Now, I can actually start to attempt it as the majority of them seem to be available for free download through amazon. How cool is that?! I have to watch myself though as it's so easy to just go on-line and order a book that I'm tempted to buy more than I should. I've already read the first two books of the "Game of Thrones" series this past week. I just downloaded the third this morning. At least, I don't have to worry about what to do with them when I'm finished. That makes my husband very happy. Six books from our bookcase on the bottom compared to 6 books in my Kindle in the red case on top. Not too shabby.