Monday, April 25, 2011

Reading Into My Lust for Books

Lust for Stuff — Books
By Christine Clark

No "Woman Killed By Falling Bookcase" Headline for Me
Books are a problem. My house is a repository for books I’ve read, books I want to read, books people loaned me that I haven’t returned, books I love, books I want to read again, books that make me think, books I read to my children when they were little, extra copies of books I want other people to read… I have a lot of books.
A recent cleaning project forced me to move a large bookcase. I say “me,” but I mean Paul, Chelsea, and me. Said move required all three of us because I didn’t want to take all the books off the shelves. We couldn’t lean the bookcase against a wall, so I propped it up with a heavy stool so it wouldn’t crash down on me.
Woman Killed By Falling Bookcase was the headline that flashed into my head for a few hours, so I moved the books onto the sofa. Piling books onto the sofa gave me a whole new perspective on just how many books I own—too many—and those were from only one bookcase. Two more large bookcases have books spilling off the shelves, a row of reference books sits on my desk, books on my nightstand, books on top of the antique wood breadbox in my room, cookbooks in the kitchen; Chelsea and Paul each have bookcases in their bedrooms.
How Many Books Are Too Many?
I don’t think I hoard books. I prefer the idea that I have an abundance of intellectual and spiritual property. That’s what I tell myself anyway. Seeing those piles of books on the sofa forced me to take another look. I need to purge some books. I decided to apply my “Lust for Stuff” criteria to each book before I put it back on the shelf:

Do I love it?
Do I want to read it?
Do I want to read it again?
Do I want to share it?
Is it a reference or a textbook I need?
Am I saving it for my children and/or grandchildren?
Does the book represent a memory I’m not ready to release?
Can I get the book at a library?

How did I do? Stay tuned…

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