Thursday, May 5, 2016

Bookshelf Quandary

After two and a half months at our new home, I have bookshelves. I spent yesterday unpacking boxes and trying to decide which ones earned a space, since I have a limit. I feel as if I were being reunited with old friends. Best of all, I am reaping a small reward for the time I spent packing the books.

I went about the packing process methodically: Books I Want to Read Next, Good Books I Want to Keep, Shakespeare (2 boxes), music books, Southern authors, humor, art, photography, scrapbooking, books on the Holocaust and the Vietnam war, books of poetry (I won't say how many boxes).  I have several boxes of my signed first editions, some of which I'd love to sell, some with which I'd never part. Packed in their own boxes, I have so many paperbacks, especially classroom classics.

I was surprised at the number of duplications (in part because people who know me tend to buy me books for gifts). Most of them I have put aside for other book lovers to whom I will pass them along. I have several books from my high school days, with "Nancy Coats" written on the inside front cover.

Since I also have small bookshelves in the rooms I have outfitted for the grandkids, I move books in there for them too--The Borrowers, the Little House books, Where the Red Fern Grows, the Narnia seriesmany of them books I read with my own children when they were small.

The decision-making gets tough when I have the shelves filled but I don't have the boxes empty.  I had at least one full box of Shakespeare left over, for example. Do I put away the books I have already read (at least once) and keep the "To Read" stack? Already I find myself opening up old favorites. With Mother's Day a day or so away, I found John McPhee's lovely essay "Silk Parachutes." I first read it in the New Yorker, prompting me to write him (and to get a letter in return.) I also found a copy of Christian Hymns No. 2 (the one with "Trust and Obey" on page 1.)

I know so many people who read exclusively on eReaders now or depend completely on the public library. I do both, but I have an ongoing relationship with my books. It's nice to give them a little fresh air.