Saturday, March 29, 2014

Books as Friends

After a year of living in two states, my husband and I have finalized our move to Springfield, Illinois. It was a challenge, not so much because we needed to be apart for periods of time, but because we often couldn't find 'stuff.'  We knew which town had which beds, not so for a specific book or spatula. We now have two of a lot of things. If we buy a vacation home in the Hamptons, we're all set.

People who expect me to have the most boxes of books would be surprised to find out is my husband who has fifteen boxes -- to my two. I have always been a big library user, but three years ago I came up with a new criterion for keeping books. I have rather bad osteoporosis, so I now ask, what am I willing to crush a vertebra to carry? The answer: not so much.

I kept some books on the craft of writing. However, only one deals with how to poison people. This can be important to a mystery writer, but three books? Really? Not when I can supplement the book with a trek to the library or an Internet search.

I retained all books by friends--wait, that makes it three boxes. Some of these are in a box under the guest room bed and will appear on shelves when we get a bigger place. My personal library has a few books by favorite authors -- Anne Tyler, M.C. Beaton, Leigh Michaels, J.K. Rowling, Robert Harris, and a couple of others. Had I not given Milne's Winnie the Pooh and Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses to a niece, I would have kept them.

It was tough to cull other favorite fiction, but if there was no chance I would read a book again it went into the annual book sale for the local American Association of University Women. These books are not lost to me. If the urge to own becomes overwhelming, most would be readily available at future books sales.

Now for the hard part. How do I rein in the urge to buy more books? Mostly, I don't, but now I buy far more electronic copies than paper.  My husband and I also became customers at Springfield's Book Rack, which lets us buy books for a reasonable fee, using credits from books we have donated. We can later donate them back to the store and get more credits.

I'm not going to pretend that the sorting process was easy, but it did clarify who my favorite authors are. As I get settled into a new town, these are the friends who join me.