To say that I have a lot of books might be an understatement. They overflow two enormous bookshelves and cover every other horizontal surface in my home. I've made many, many promises over the years about curbing my addiction and I'm fairly certain that I owe my brother my first born child in repayment for the many, many times that he has helped me move them from one apartment to another. But, to be honest, I don't see the flow slowing any time soon. I mean, sure, I can consent to putting a temporary moratorium on buying new books. That just makes sense. But when you live in a college town, Goodwill ends up having a wonderful selection that ranges from the painfully academic to the whimsical and beautiful and they can all be mine for the low low price of 88 cents apiece. To me, books fall under that category of things-one-must-gather-save-and-then-pass-on. You can never have enough of them. I dream of my children someday running their hands along the spines and discovering the things that I love and then learning to love them too.
The pleasure is also aesthetic. They give me an incredible sense of order and comfort, of all being right with the world, everything in its place. They calm me. They're not necessarily in order alphabetically or by subject. They are arranged so that my presence is necessary as a guide. Each shelf is of a specific period of my life and as I take each title in my hands I remember where I was when I read it, who I was with, where I was working, what the drama was of that moment. There's Uta and Meisner. Volume after volume on translation studies (even though English is my only language). Five copies of the same novel because each one is slightly different and I loved it so incredibly much that I couldn't fathom not having it in all of its iterations. Millay and Wakoski (Oh, what lips my lips have kissed!), Acconci and Man Ray. Fiction, poetry, theatre, film, sexuality, gender, photography, art, book studies, cookbooks, children's books, crafts, politics, history, biography, short stories. How could I possibly let any of these go? Which would I cut? Rare, signed, first editions nuzzle closely with pulpy paperbacks. They all have their place. In my personal history as well as on these shelves.