Friday, July 9, 2010

Treasure trove

Selling ninety percent of your book collection probably seems like the most foreign idea to any writer. But yesterday, that is exactly what I did.

It took some time to cozy up to the idea of selling my books. After all, who doesn't suffer the attachment that books create? Even non-writers love books. They represent loves, fears, hates and hopes. But, as time dragged on and all those books I was certain I would re-read were never re-read, I realized the thing they most represented was conquest.

I think I made the right choice in selling off my books. Now, I have a fat wad of cash in my pocket, a less cluttered home, and someone else can conquer the same books that I once enjoyed mastering-by-reading--and for only a fraction of the price. I also picked up a "free"--i.e., traded for--copy of a Reader's Digest collection of essays on how to write better fiction. The tome looks packed with good articles, and I can't wait to start it, finish it--and donate it to the library.

Of course, this doesn't mean I've lost my book-identity. Firstly, getting rid of the books I'd read made me realize how many volumes had been resting on my shelf, unread, for years: the Lord of the Rings, which I've been meaning to get to for eight years, foremost among them. And, secondly and even more important, getting rid of all the unneccessary clutter made me realize what books I truly value, as opposed to the ones that took up "trophy" space. What's left of the collection? Hannah Arendt's "Human Condition" and "Life of Mind;" Khalil Gibran's "The Prophet;" Martin Heidegger's "Being and Time;" the entire Calvin & Hobbes collection; and Fred Saberhagen's "First Swords" saga. Now that's a library.


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