23 Jul

My family keeps an enormous amount of books in the house. I’m not sure how or why we accumulated so many over the years, but it seems that in every room there is at least one shelf stuffed with an assortment of books, some better than others, but mostly, they’re all rather good ones. No longer are there neat rows of tidy books, an image I conjure when I recall my younger years; rather, it now resembles a car packed for that first year of college—every available inch is stuffed.

There are books lying horizontal on top of the rows, in the space between the top of the books and the bottom of the shelf. There are books so tightly squeezed together you can hardly pull them out. There are books here and there, wherever they escaped from the confines of shelving. Every year my mom organizes them, which does some good, until we get more books. Last year she haphazardly grouped them by author.

Now, the Austens are all together, the Woolfes share the same residence, the anthologies sag together under mutual weight in the left corner of the first shelf in my room. They’re loosely organized, and I’m not surprised when I discover a Dickinson mingling with an Austen or a Bishop which has somehow scooted over to the designated “books on writing” shelf. I’ve given up hope they’ll ever be perfectly organized, and it’s given me wonder and amazement for those people called librarians who successfully organize vast quantities of books.


A few weeks ago I found three brand new Virgina Woolfe books at a garage sale for a dollar a piece. I paid for them with the pennys, nickles and dimes sloshing around at the bottom of my purse. There I was, pulling a red wagon around the neighborhood with a baby on my hip (I was babysitting) pooling together my pennies to buy books. It was a transaction I’ll never forget. I realized, at that  moment, that I am my parents, and one day, my house too will be filled with books.

When I got home, I opened to the first page of her memoirs (one of the books), and I discovered an inscription written within: “2/ 14/ 03 (Valentines Day) My honey came to me as if in a dream. Each day I grow to love her more and to know how lucky one man can be. I’m always rich in happiness. Her presence is enough to make me smile a lifetime. xoxo.”  Each of the books have similar inscriptions- all are romantic, and reading them made me feel as if I stumbled across a diary. Mrs. Dalloway’s reads: ” 2/14/03 To my Mrs. Dalloway- I give my heart and love for all to see! (within a heart) A true love: The love for ones Soulmate…the love of ones Passion…the love for my honey- all shall live forever! (written within another heart) Each day spent with my love is a gift from heaven, one that is priceless and one for which I will always give thanks. xoxo.”

Interestingly, the books seem like they’ve never even been read. The pages are crisp and new as when they were first printed. The man who bought the books either didn’t know the literary tastes of his wife, or something else, perhaps a falling out? One can only imagine. They must not have meant much to her for her to sell them at a garage sale, which seemed very sad to me. Even if she didn’t like Woolfe’s writing, couldn’t she have kept them as a momento of her husbands love for her, something to read when their passion dwindles? In any event, it was a fortuous happening for me, to stumble upon them, particularily To The Lighthouse- a dreamy and ethereal excursion into the life of one family.


One Response to “BoOks.”

  1. Justin July 25, 2009 at 10:59 pm #

    That’s cool that you can appreciate many different things, and that you’re not picky. I’m not that way at all. For every 50 books that cross my path there might be one I’m interested in. There are many, many books I’ve opened, read the first page or a few random pages, and then just put down because it didn’t grab me. That might seem dumb… but I look at it like this. There are millions of books in the world. Too many to spend time on ones I don’t like. Maybe I could learn to appreciate them a little more in time… but why would I, when there’s so many more authors out there I might stumble upon and fall in love with?

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