Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Books Are Alive

An interesting phenomenon happens every time I pack up and move.

When I left for college, I took with me my favorite books and a few I hadn't had a chance to read yet. They fit unobtrusively into the nooks and crannies of a laundry basket otherwise filled to the brim with odd bits like hangers, pillows, and over very old, very loved teddy bear.

As my freshman year wore on, the books claimed more and more territory along the back of my desk, and by the time I moved away a few months ago, I was leaving behind three full bookcases of novels and hoarded textbooks.

In packing for Idaho, I was even more selective in choosing which books would come. Since I had no idea how much room I would have, and because everything I was taking had to fit in the bed of my truck, I brought only the books I thought I couldn't get by without. Along came the compiled novels of Jane Austen, paperbacks of The Lord of the Rings, one book that was a gift from my brother, a few church books, and Harry Potter en español (though I limited myself to the four I hadn't finished yet).

Just since I arrived a little over three months ago, my collection has multiplied until I'm not sure where I would fit even one more book on the little shelf I have for them. I even gave in and shelved them all two deep!

I'm coming to believe my library is a living organism constantly undergoing mitosis. It's like a fungus or tribbles or troll meat. (For your convenience, those references were arranged in ascending order of nerdiness.)

I almost wish I could be exasperated with myself, but I'm too fond of books to really mind. Besides, who would I skip?

My latest additions were all absolutely necessary. Working at the library has its perks. The other day, I came home with an armful of books, not a one of which was printed more recently than 1954. Who am I to say no to such a beautiful copy of one of my favorite works?

It even smells divine.

Going through all the old books the other day, I started remembering the books my mom had while I was growing up. I always loved the oldest best (most especially a chunky, faded blue volume of children's poetry). I didn't always read them or even know what they were about, but they were so gorgeous and smelled so nice. I've loved that smell longer than I can remember. As I was picking out the books I wanted a few days ago, I kept imagining my children falling in love with these same old copies, exploring the shelves as if they were a misty jungle ripe for discovery, as I once did with my mother's books. I can imagine them treasuring the yellowed pages and old typeface, breathing in that exotic smell like oxygen.

I'm excited to someday see all my books reunited, gathered in from Missouri and Arizona and Idaho, and wherever else the Lord decides to send me. I don't even know how many I have! I'd like to see my library someday, that part of my dream life where I live in that little house with the pale walls and the big windows, surrounded by the books that, in their way, chronicle my whole life.

In the meantime, I'm amused at having a transcontinental library. Now, where am I going to put that next book?

1 comment:

  1. I don't know where to put them, but if you still want me to send those references you won't have long to decide.