Sunday, February 24, 2013

Confessions of a Book Lover

When we moved away from British Columbia we had to let a lot of things go.  Furniture, tools, dishes, plants, keepsakes.  The list of items that we had to part with was endless.  Some things were easy and it was a good excuse to clean out our closets.  Some things were difficult.  There was an antique jug that I still regret selling, even though it's been three years.

One of my coveted items is books.  I read a lot.  I always have.  Beginning in elementary school I always had a library card, I received books as presents and then as an adult I progressed to purchasing my own books.


My shelves are filled with books that I love to look at, remember, read again, and sigh over.  Some reference books provide invaluable daily use.  Our shelves are filled with everything from novels to gardening, plays, philosophy, furniture design, and house repair.


The first time we purged of our household pre-move it was mostly novels that were dispatched.  But there were several more purges after that first one and each one got harder.  When push came to shove and the truck was full there were still boxes of books that needed to be culled.  I had to say goodbye.

You can't move to Prince Edward Island and not keep a collection of Anne books
There were trade offs.  The entire Harry Potter set went to the moving sale in lieu of my hardcopy edition of Little Women.  That was a gift from my father when I was just a girl and there was no way to part with it.

Garden books were kept with the promise of my very own garden to come.

I whittled away until only a box or two was left behind.  Even so when we moved into this house it took no time to fill the existing shelving.


Now books are piled in every available corner.



and on every surface


My love borders on addiction some days.  I've re-purchased books that I used to own, taken bags of books from second hand sales and keep adding to the stacks.  Unfortunately I don't read as fast or as much as I would like.  So those stacks seem to consistently increase.  I see a lot more bookshelves in our future.

If you had to move and could take only a few of your most treasured books with you, what titles would you choose?

40 comments:

  1. well, marguerite, having moved many times in my lifetime, and having hauled more boxes of books .. the most heavy of all .. i, too have learned the practice of culling .. in fact, i am continually culling .. in the name of simplifying .. it works .. i am continually creating space .. for more stuff! .. no, seriously, it is working .. i'm lightening up ..
    and, to answer your question .. i, too, keep my most favourite gardening books and novels with reference to gardens .. oh, and my dictionary and thesaurus .. my attempts to keep more focused in my collecting .. and now that we have our own library on our little island, i donated a lot of books there so i can borrow them any time i want ..
    yup, for us lovers of the printed word, books can be hard to leave behind .. good on you for doing it!

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    1. That's the issue isn't it - books are probably the heaviest thing you can pack. Our trailer could only handle so much weight in the move so books were a big no no. I couldn't get rid of any gardening books either. Novels were easier but garden books are always useful.

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  2. Ohhhh Marguerite I can so relate! As my sister Liane will also attest to - we grew up surrounded by books (our mother was a published author) and they are our most prized possessions! I have gotten rid of many box fulls over the past few years to second hand shops but have hundreds more, in stacks and piles like you. They are everywhere! Every Christmas, every birthday our mother would buy us books and every week as a youngster I would walk to the library and borrow 4 books. The librarian knew my library card # off by heart. Already our house in PEI has its own piles of books lol! The little library in Alberton always has sales of their old books every summer plus we find them at yard sales and Value Village etc. It IS an addiction! I don't think there's too many more I can bear to part with but I'll try...sort of...when the time comes!

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    1. I know those sales - I can never pass one by! My real addiction is used bookstores. I love those old shops with books packed to the ceiling, no idea what you may find. I could spend hours in there. Luckily you can move your belongings a bit at a time until you move out. That should make things slightly easier :)

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  3. Oh this is a difficult question. I have purged and purged books. I then bought a Nook thinking I would only purchase hard cover for books I would reread or those books that have pictures I like to dwell over. So many books I read only one time. If I couldn't take all of what I now have... hmmmm I would definitely take my poetry, field guides, my own journals. This doesn't sound like much but if you saw what I was talking about it would look like a considerable heap.
    Don't feel bad about your piles of books.

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    1. Lisa, I can picture what your heap might look like. We've talked here about having different bookshelves for different topics. I would love to have all my garden books in one spot for reference. Same for Jody and his theatre books. One can never have too many books on a given subject.

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  4. Oh my, if I have to abandon the premises, my 1950s set of Laura Ingalls Wilder books would have to come with me. And Wallace Stegner's Angle of Repose. And my Russian language version of Winnie the Pooh.

    And my Kindle with everything else on it!

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    1. That 1950's set must be wonderful to have. What a collectors item! I own a Kobo with numerous books on it but it's the hard copy ones with worn covers and crinkled pages that win my heart.

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  5. Marguerite, the latest book I would take is Night Circus. I listened to this on my IPod. I think I have entered my second childhood. I love audiobooks. I can knit, sew, garden and chase dust bunnies while listening to a story. Life doesn't get better than that.

    My gardening books are a different matter. They are read and re read, underlined and have notations in the margin, as do my cook books.

    Then there is the cupboard of books I have saved for my grandchildren, the favourites of their parents.

    We could have worse vices.
    Donna

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    1. I loved the Night CIrcus! and I like that idea of listening to a book and doing work around the house. I would get a lot more accomplished that way.

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  6. I totally approve of the trade-off from Harry Potter to the 'Little Women'. For so many reasons......
    We went through the same thing when we left BC - it's hard when you're a book lover! But always easy to get more....too easy....

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    1. LOL, I admit I loved the Harry Potter series but I have sentimental attachment to Little Women that won out. You're right, it's faaarr too easy to get more books. Indigo and Amazon will deliver right to your door...

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  7. This sounds very familiar. We have moved four times in the last 25 years, always within the Chicago area, except for a brief sojourn in Wisconsin. Pound for pound, I think books make up the largest single item that we move. Or if feels that way to my back, anyhow.

    I have tried to do some purging, I go through the shelves and put books into grocery bags for donations to the Goodwill, and then Judy goes through the bags and puts half the books back on the shelves. This is not efficient.

    Saying which books I would take with me is very tough. I know that for gardening books I think I would take Designing with Plants by Piet Oudolf, Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines, by William Culina, and Michael Dirr's woody plant book. And Alan Armitage's book of native perennials. And ... and ...

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    1. oh boy, you have some serious garden literature going on there. Oudolf, Dirr - I can see why you wouldn't part with these. I must admit there were very few garden books I was willing to part with, they were reference material for my new garden after all. Someone once told me a tip about packing - always pack a few books into every box mixed in with other items. That way no box ever gets too heavy. Smart advice as an entire box of just books can seriously injure a back.

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  8. Every time we move, I lug boxes of books with me. I just love them so much. But I have gotten rid of books that I didn't love or never read/used. I have a garden book that was given to me by my dad that I treasure because he wrote me a note inside. I could never part with it. It's priceless to me.

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    1. What a wonderful present to hang onto. There's something about an old book, given as a gift, particularly inscribed. A treasure to last forever.

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    1. LOL, actually I do own a Kobo and yet I still buy proper books. I think the feel of real books is hardwired into my DNA

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  10. PS I keep everything I've read more than once. I don't think I could ever give up my Harry Potter books! lol

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    1. I had a hard time with that one but there was just too many of them and not nearly enough space.

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  11. Marguerite, I'm facing this very challenge. All the bookcases in my house in Maine are already overflowing; and when I retire next year, I'll have to figure out which of the many books in my rental house here and in the five floor to ceiling bookcases in my office at the college to pack up and move with me. I'm planning to install whole walls of bookcases in the new study I will create as I put an addition on my house; but, even so, most will have to be culled. I'm glad I still have a year to make these decisions. -Jean

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    1. I had forgotten that soon you will be moving back to Maine. I can imagine as a professor you must have quite a number of books for reference. What a great idea to plan the addition now so there's a plan for all the extra bits when you do eventually make the move.

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  12. I am not sure what I would keep if I could only keep a handful. I do have an old McGuffy reader, 'See Dick Run, Run Dick Run' etc. Would make sure to keep that one, but I can't tell you where it is right now!! After we moved I know it is here, but can't visualize where I put it! aughhhh midnight book hunt!

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    1. Janet, this sounds like the case of our missing Shakespeare. We've been searching for that darn play book for months now but it's gone on walkabout as some books do. I've told Jody the surest way to find it is to order a new copy. You know I think I saw one of those old readers at an auction not too long ago. Don't see them around much anymore.

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  13. Oh, how hard to have to purge books. I know, we had to do the same, though I managed to hang on to pretty much anything that had a story to it, because of who gave it to me or where I was when I read it or whatever. Here, we have so few walls we can put shelves up on or stand bookcases against I find myself almost glad we cleared away so much, but oh it hurt! Fortunately I was able to replace all the novels in kindle form, which helped enormously.

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    1. It's the ones that had memories that I kept too. Whether it was a gift or just a moment in time that clung to the book, they were too precious to part with.

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  14. hello Marguerite, I've just been catching up with your blog and see you have had some wild wintery weather,
    belated congratulations on your tenth anniversary and what a lovely fish I can see him swimming in a sea of grass waving in the wind,
    as you know we get plenty of wind here and like you it was a new experience to me when I moved here, some of my young trees are wind sculptured,
    when I started reading this post I thought what a nice built in storage unit and then in the next post see how you clever pair had made it,
    I too love books and like you had/have lots every where including the stack on the futon beside me as I type so I smiled at your chair photo ;) when I reached 60 I told myself I had too stop buying and a few years later started to sort them and say good bye to some, I felt I was leaving too much to my children to have to sort out,
    I am not sure I can name titles I could not part with it is more sentiment when it comes to final decisions like your book your father gave you, my main cookery book was given me by my mother when I married 47 years ago, it is falling apart with loose pages and some stained pages but it would among the last to go, Frances

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    1. Frances, the wild weather seems to be over for the most part thank goodness. Can almost smell spring in the air these last couple days, what a wonderful feeling. Your cookbook sounds wonderful - such a sweet gift and well used over the years. The best kind of present.

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  15. Gosh, that's a hard question! I guess I would take the books that I like to daydream over- the gardening favourites and my cookbooks...and maybe a few novels.
    I have a similar addiction to books. Recently, I discovered one charity shop that has the best collection of used books for mere peanuts. I can't stack too may more books onto my pile of must reads or it may topple and kill someone. Like you I wish I could read faster or more often!

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    1. Those second hand shops are the best! of course, like you, I need to be careful the piles don't get too precarious.

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  16. I am a book lover, too. I have regretted getting rid of any book I've ever owned, so now I keep them all. If I had to cull through them, I don't know which ones I'd keep. That would be a very difficult task.

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    1. I can't imagine keeping EVERY book I've owned. I have a slight system, after the first read ones that I wasn't that satisfied with go immediately into a charity box. Then usually a move forces some culling.

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  17. I too purged much to my husband's chagrin. I never thought he would notice, but did. And still I have a library in the dining room, lots of books in my office, books on the living room shelves, boxes of books in the attic, and books in my husband's study. Too many darn books. I wonder how I got so many? So I feel for your dilemma, but living with a hoarder, I have no advice to give.

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    1. LOL, you've got one of those too! My hubby loves his books but its the other oddities that really take up the space. Second hand furniture and antiques, lumber, renovation 'supplies' (this includes the 5 sinks sitting in our garage)..

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  18. I, too, love books and find it very hard to part with them. Many of my books are my most treasured possessions. I am sure there are a few that I could let go if I absolutely had to pare things down. I am glad to hear that you have been able to rebuild your library over time. My favorite books are: The Jane Austen collection, The Prince of Tides, other pieces of fiction and poetry, many of my gardening books, many of my health books, too many to mention...Great post, great question!

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    1. Love Jane Austen. In fact I found a number of lovely hardbound copies that I simply had to buy last year. I can always read Jane again.

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  19. I love books, but reading as much as I do...I would be broke. So I've learnt to love the library, with it's huge book budget...

    Most of the books I want to read are in their collection..and some I save to purchase.

    Jen

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    1. Jen, I agree new books are very expensive. It's rare I buy a bestseller these days. Second hand shops and flea markets are my saving grace.

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  20. I started thinning the books, now each time we head to Cape Town another box of my mother's books follows me home. The ones we looked at together, that we talked about, that I borrowed, that I bought for her.

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    1. Diana, that must be so difficult to go through her things. It's nice though to be reminded of so many good memories when you look at her books. I hope you find some space in your new home to bring those precious books with you.

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