My husband and I are getting ready to move in May, to a place that feels more “us”–but is sadly lacking in the storage space department. We acquired an off-site storage unit and are busy socking away things like our Christmas decorations, my stand mixer (seriously, I have yet to find a use for this thing besides holiday cookie-baking), and our charcoal grill. He also has a lot of music equipment from his DJing days that’s getting shoved in there until we figure out what to do with it, and I’ve got several boxes of books that I don’t see myself wanting to reread in the next year or so but would be incredibly heartbroken if I got rid of them.
Then I jammed five boxes full of books that I believed I would not miss at all and brought them to my monthly book club meeting this past weekend for de-accessioning. The members of this club are all book nerds of one kind or another–fellow alumni from the same library science program and their friends, old bookstore cohorts and their friends, etc. Even though I went through the boxes three times before I left my house, I was still sad to see some the books end up in others’ hands. And even sadder for the books that no one wanted. (Those get donated to the local library.)
“Is my taste just that bad? HOW could you not want to take EVERYTHING?” I wanted to ask.
Yet these are books from a past me, a me that doesn’t really exist anymore–at least not in the same way–and I can’t blame them for not wanting to take more. I didn’t want them, why should they?
So I am no longer the pre-teen that collected every book in The Cat Who books by Lillian Jackson Braun. (Though I still want a highly intelligent Siamese cat that solves murders just by blinking its eyes. But instead I have a grey tabby who runs into walls and has the gracefulness of a moose.) And no longer do I need to keep every textbook I ever bought, just in case I ever want to reread Jogging and Walking for Health and Wellness or The Art of Communication (after 10 years, I think it’s safe to say I won’t). I also realized, I don’t need to keep “smart people” books on my shelf just to have them. I really really hated Love in the Time of Cholera and Crime and Punishment, and I don’t need to waste precious shelf space solely to impress people who probably wouldn’t even notice.
I could see a history of me, as my friends picked over my books. Titles that remind of other people, other times, other places. But I figure if those memories, those people, are really that important, I don’t need to keep books around just to jog them along. And forgetting some of the past is not always a bad thing. I don’t mean suppressing anything emotionally tumultuous; those are important, and help to define the person you become. I just mean, there’s only so much room in my head for remembering, and sometimes the less important stuff needs to be purged.