I live surrounded by books. The photo above is of my bedside table, just to give an idea of what I’m currently reading — plus the ridiculous number on my iPad. Quite often I have books piled on the bed-head as well. One morning my kids will come in and find me buried by the books, only my feet visible.
There are worse ways to go.
On rebuilding our house a few years ago most of our things were stored in the sheds. (The delights of living on acres- heaps of storage.) One was filled with boxes, to the point that we literary had to take one box out before we could take a step forward, to take out another box, followed by a few more steps forward… Pulling out the flotsam and jetsam of our lives I finally came to our books. Boxes and boxes of them. Like an archeological dig, the deeper we went, the more interesting the discoveries. Books we’d forgotten about. Books we remember but haven’t seen in so long. Old friends greeting each other after too much time apart.
I have no idea how many books are in my house. Thousands, if not tens of thousands. Books on everything. A virtual library.
A pipe dream is to one day own a second hand bookshop, a place where people can sit with a cup of coffee or a bowl of soup and read the afternoon away. A shop most likely populated with my own surplus of books.
When my husband and I first moved in together, we had duplicate copies of so many books. Even so, we couldn’t throw them out. I find it so hard, knowing the effort taken to write them. Now that my husband has died, I can’t throw out any which were his.
As I unpacked those boxes a few years ago, however, with some of the books I had no choice. Part of the fun of living on acres is the wild life which comes with it. Books stored in boxes in an unused shack — the rats enjoyed some of my books as much as I once did.
For now, the little shack is free of rats. I spied the diamond python sliding through a window to sun himself on the roof. On looking closely I could make-out the bumps of his digesting lunch. After warming himself on the corrugated iron, he slithered away to the neighbour’s property. He does the rounds, clearing out the rats in one place (among other things, such as chicken eggs) before moving onto the next. He’ll be back. Maybe sometime in summer, maybe not until next year.
And as I unpacked the books and dusted them off, I came across so many I haven’t yet read, or have read many times and want to read again.
So, I decided, what is the point of having all these books if I don’t read them? I can’t claim to live an intellectual life if these books sit on the shelves, unloved. So that is what I plan to do, working my way through all the books in my house, from philosophy to cooking, literature to religion, dog training to the works of Homer. Travel, art, history, poetry, science fiction — there’s very little that’s not on our shelves.
I have no idea how long this crazy vow will take — I’m guessing a few years — so it must be time to brew some coffee and get started.