My mother used to leave people’s homes saying, “Well, they had a nice library.” Or “Can you believe it, not one book in sight! Do you think they even read???” My sister and I grew up believing that books had to be seen, saved, and, most importantly, displayed. Because of this we both have spent much of our transcontinental lives overpaying grossly for exceptionally heavy boxes of books to be mailed from one place to another, books from high school, college, graduate school and so on, going with us wherever we go. Even when the paper gets brittle and beer-colored, we save these books. In my house, I have an office with 4 six-tier high shelves of books, most shelves sagging due to double-layering, one set of books behind the other. There are also numerous books laid horizontally on top of these. I also built book shelves into the two closets of my offices.
We have books in the living room, our bedroom, both children’s bedrooms, and my husband’s office. They crowd the attic, the basement, and rest many stacks high along three big bookcases the full length of the hallway upstairs. Others stacked on the foyer shelves.
I find it painful to part with books I have read, certain that some brilliant passage that nourished my soul will be stripped from me forever if I give up the book it is encased in.
Which is why it is particularly hard for me to celebrate when my readers (whom I love and am so grateful for and want to hug) say, “I just gave your book away to my mother…my dog walker…I sent it to my friend in Cincinnati.” Two weeks after the book came out, there were used copies available on amazon.com. Pre-owned! How do people do it???
This is why Kindle is doing so well. Will an e-reader ever suffice for my mother? What will she have to say about the neighbors?