Goodbye, Old Friends...

Unfortunately, this month's selection for my book club is not available as an audiobook, which prompted me to tell the members that I will not be joining this round. Having an 18-month-old very active toddler while also working full-time means that the little time I do have in the day is spent in cooking, cleaning, and generally loving my family. It's these little matters that matter after all.

And where do my other loves factor in? My love for reading and writing? Well, I cheat a little, you see. I satisfy the love for writing by having a dedicated block once a week, during which I typically compose entries for this blog. The love for reading, well, it was suffering terribly and actually spiraling very quickly down a slippery slope about to disappear into, it had to evolve. Sometime last year, I started to listen to audiobooks, very hesitantly at first, but with an increasing passion ever since. I am at a point where I look forward to my commute every morning, because I am eager to get back to "reading." Sometimes when I get home, I circle around the block a few times so I reach a point where I feel comfortable "closing the book." It has honestly changed my life for the better. I spend 2 hours every day on the road - that's 10 hours a week, it's very, very significant, because let's face it, people - I could be at home cuddling with my very cuddle-worthy baby during those 2 hours. It is important for me to spend this time enjoyably and productively, so that it comes at least marginally close to being as good as cuddling with the aforementioned baby. This does NOT involve listening to popular morning radio jockeys talking about whether a particular celebrity is cheating on their significant other - a couple of Adele songs peppered into their pointless banter cannot be its saving grace.

Last weekend, I decided to reorganize the garage, part of which also serves as my home office. I haven't used it in months and everything in that space looked neglected and had a layer of dust thick enough that it caused my allergies to flair up with the slightest disturbance. I filled up 5 boxes full of books I have read and enjoyed, but have not even touched since switching to audiobooks. It is time for my "real" books to make someone else very happy - someone who does not have a feisty toddler trying to extricate the book from their hands forcefully, or maybe someone who does - I don't know. The point is, I have taken all the juice out of those books. They will continue to sit on the shelves of my bookcase, gathering dust, silently screaming insults at me every time I park my car in the garage and walk past them. They are probably very unhappy in this dark space. They deserve to be in a library with good lighting and ventilation, someone to dust them off every once in a while, curious hands drawn by a strange pull from the force of their words, people picking them up, leafing through their pages, maybe finding a passage I underlined, a question I wrote in the margin, and thinking..."Hmm, this is interesting." With a heavy heart, I have to say that I must let my books go. 

Of course I am keeping some books that I simply cannot give up. All Harry Potter books. My signed copy of Labor Day by Joyce Maynard. My collector's edition of Wicked. On Beauty and White Teeth by Zadie Smith. Fragile Things and Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman. My Margaret Atwood books. Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen - I read that book at a lonely time in my life. It's misery made me realize I have had good luck so far. Unfamiliar Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri. The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai. All books on writing technique and poetry. Poetry collections of Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Billy Collins, Yeats, Li-young Lee, and Adrienne Rich. Toni Morrison books. Collected works of Shakespeare and Edgar Allan Poe. Short story collections by Alice Munro and Joyce Carol Oates. And some others...

I have not yet donated the 5 big boxes of books. I want to open them up another time, just to be absolutely, positively sure that I am doing the right thing. The fact is, I am parting with books I have loved and read and loved and read and loved and read and traveled with - I have uprooted my life from one country and flown across an ocean with some of them, and moved 8 times in the last ten years within California with others. I have bribed, threatened, begged, and manipulated friends to lug my boxes of books from one place to another just because it was too difficult for me to part with them. 

All for what? So they could sit forlornly on shelves with dust particles settling deep into their pages, along their spines. They will be much happier in a library. The question is, will I be much sadder without them?