I am on the cusp of being reunited with my library after more than a year of separation. Words fail to capture my excitement.
The books got packed up after the Flood of ’13 and have been in storage ever since. As I write this, bookshelves are being installed along most of the walls in our new basement. I’ve been staining boards for days now. What a labor of love that has been! I’ve got the perfect set-up to work outside in the sun, listening to the critters, doing tangible work. They have been very good days.
The library is not special. No rare books, no special first editions anyway. I do have several that have been signed by the authors – those are especially dear to me. I love the stories that surround each signature. And obviously, the authors of those books are special to me, too, since I went out of my way to meet them.
The books remain, even after the author. Christopher Hitchens is no longer with us, but several of his books, one of them signed, will go up in a grouping in the non-fiction area.
I love organizing the books. I have more fiction than non-fiction at the moment. Most of them are arranged alphabetically, once the separation between fiction and non-fiction is made. But favorite authors get their own little niche. Once I find a writer I like, I like to read everything. Serials must be read and shelved in chronological order.
Within the non-fiction group, there are several sub-genres. I’ve got books about viruses and plagues; the drug war; American history; world pre-history; true crime and serial killers, gardening, Kentucky, and so on.
As you might expect, the library reflects the person.
The move gave me reason to purge books as well. When I discovered that I’m a middle-brow (from a book by Susan Jacoby), I went on a mission to self-improve, so I bought a bunch of Pulitzer prize winning books.
Bwahaha! That went well. Actually, that is how I discovered Wallace Stegner’s “Angle of Repose.” Now, there is a book! I cannot wait to re-read it some cold night after our wood burning stove gets installed.
(I love re-reading books. The older I get, the more I enjoy it. Since I don’t remember much, it’s like a fresh experience. And, since I’ve aged since reading it, I bring a different perspective.)
But, “Humboldt’s Gift” got purged and gladly. That is one of the few books I didn’t finish. I was bored from the beginning, but once the protagonist punched his pregnant wife in the stomach, I put it down. Life is too short to spend with assholes, even fictional ones.
Also purged, “The Nat Turner Diaries.” Frankly, that was both embarrassing and way too much work to read. All of which proves how middle-brow I am, I suppose.
On the other hand, there is plenty of Shakespeare and some plays and screenplays that I don’t suppose are on too many of my fellow American’s shelves.
There are no romance novels in the library. Larry McMurtry is my sole western sub-genre. There is very little sci-fi or fantasy. Lots of mysteries, but I’m losing interest. Mostly, the fiction portion has become author driven, rather than genre, whilst the opposite happens in the non-fiction section. I tend to get obsessed with a topic and will read to satiation or the next obsession, whichever comes first. That comes as a surprise, I know.
I know, once my hot little hands are in the boxes, that I will find so many I had forgotten all about and it will seem like Christmas. I know that I will set this or that one aside for re-reading as I unpack my friends, resulting in a huge pile once I’m finished.
Once the books are up, will I be home?