Wednesday, November 28, 2007

wherein I attempt to weed out my library

The English club at New SLAC is having a book sale to raise money for Cool Trip That I Seem To Be Organizing This Year. (This is a little alarming, as I do not normally do organization, and my usual approach to travel is along the lines of "buy a plane ticket to City A, and another one returning a month later from City B, and see what happens in between." I suspect that Travel With Student Groups takes a bit more planning. But I digress.)

Anyway, I thought I would donate some books. I already donated a bunch of books to their last book sale, and brought a boxful to the Free Market in Crunchy Granola Town before I moved, so I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel here. And yet, I probably should not be. I have lots of books I will probably never read again. I have some that I've had for years and have never read at all, but I don't want to part with them before I've had a chance to ascertain what they might contain.

My books fall into three broad categories. There are the books I genuinely like and / or find useful for my work, which I obviously want to keep. There are books that I haven't actually read, or read long ago for an undergraduate course, but keep around in a vague hope that I will find them useful someday. These are the ones with titles like Teach Yourself Thai, Orthography in Shakespeare, and Oral Presentations in the Composition Course: A Brief Guide. I might, actually, give serious thought to donating some of these, except I suspect that undergraduates are even less likely to find them useful or interesting than I am.

And then there are the books that have, broadly defined, Sentimental Value. Pretty much all of my travel guides fall into this category, although most of them are outdated. So does the trashy paperback that I bought at the hotel when I visited the University of Basketball as a prospective student; the Shakespeare authorship conspiracy books that a friend gave me as a graduation present; and the copy of The Duchess of Malfi that used to belong to my undergrad American lit prof (whose class was memorable solely because it inspired me to write a short story about a killer copy of Moby Dick that flew around the English department clubbing boring professors over the head, but somehow those memories seem to have acquired a patina of sentiment with time).

In short, everything has sentimental value. I tried an experiment today where I chose a bookshelf at random and tried to remember when, how, and why I acquired each of the books; there were only three or four that stumped me. The rest all had stories. And I find it very, very hard to get rid of a book with a story. Sigh.

1 comment:

Sisyphus said...

It's like the scene in _High Fidelity_ where John Cusack is filing his record collection biographically.

I so understand that.