Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Home Library Problem

Everyone has a dream; some people have many dreams. Lately, I dream of organizing and downsizing my life.

Mr. Sinta and I often talk about when all the offspring leave home, and we are left with a house that is way too big. This house has always been way too big, except when we had our business in our basement. The problem is not really the size of the house. The problem is that in the 15 or so years that we have been here, our possessions have grown to fill the house. This represents exponential growth because we have an amazing amount of storage space.

When I spent quite a bit of time boxing up Aimee's stuff and delivering it to her new house, it dawned on me that we have way too much stuff that stayed here. I am not referring to her stuff that we are storing, but to everyone else's stuff.

Lately, when I open up my favorite book cabinet(we are blessed with lots of built in cabinets), I say to myself that I have way too many books, and if I were really wise I would be able to discriminate between them and eliminate so many books that all of my favorite books would fit into one cabinet. Soon after that my will to eliminate any books at all crumbles, and I close the cabinet and move on to some other activity.

Purging. That is what I want to do. I want to begin purging the books with little value, beauty or usefulness. The only problem is that I feel like I am parting with dear friends.

Joanna B. is a real life good friend whom I respect a great deal. We no longer attend the same church, but we make sure that we get together for lunch at least once every summer. During that lunch, we typically talk for hours and catch up on the last year. She is awesome.

Some books are Joanna B. books. I mean that I may not refer to them every month, but life would be poorer without them. They lend a perspective that I need to have from time to time, just like I need Joanna B's perspective on my life. She makes the low places not so low and the high places seem more honorable. Her opinion strengthens my hands for the work I have ahead of me.

That is the door-closing dilemma. Books are my friends.

Feel free to comment and send me your list of ten favorite books that are like friends that you could not bear to part with, and also one book that you should toss and why.


R said...

Well, without listing, I could easily say all my Thomas Hardy books I could not part with. I could not bear to do it. One day it is a goal of mine to re-read them, study them, and be one of the few people in this world that is an expert on them.

A book I should toss out---Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. I sort of have no idea why I own it. I think at first, before reading some of it, I thought that I would enjoy reading it. Well, I sort of do in a sick way. The Professor and I from time to time open the thing up and make fun of it mercilessly. The content for the most part is terrible, it is terribly written, and is nothing but filth that should be burned publicly. No offense if you like it, but I think it is trash in (I think, if you can call it poetry) poetic form. I hate poetry anyway.

My favorite poet? Thomas Hardy, of course.

SprinklerBandit said...

I agree with R. I hated Leaves of Grass.

10 books I would keep:
1. Any Jim Kjelgaard books--nostalgia
2. All Dostoyevsky books
3. My two Shellabarger books
4. Lord of the Rings and the Silmarillion (and Children of Hurin, but I haven't read it yet)
5. Troilus and Cressida, by Chaucer--haven't read it yet, but I'm looking forward to it
6. Infidel by Ayn Hirsi Ali--Not an amazing literary work, but some invaluable perspective
7. The Princess by Tennyson. I wrote a whole blog bragging about how pretty it was.
8. War and Peace--because I'm arrogant. I think I'll read it again.
9. The Bible. It's a good book.
10. All my other books. They're a treasure. They are endlessly interesting, and they provide an ability to learn and appreciate the knowledge of ages past.

Mrs. Sinta said...

Dear r and sprinklerbandit,

I own only one Hardy book, Tess of the D's, but I have not read it yet.

Coincidentally, I also have a Dostoevsky book, Crime and Punishment, also unread.

Thankfully, I do not have anything by Whitman.

It would be embarrassing to say how many Bible translations that I own. Right now, my favorites are the English Standard Version, the New King James Version and one or two others.

My top ten books would probably be mostly non-fiction, and would bore you to tears. Maybe it will be a post for another day.

I gave up on the book shelf purge today, and cleaned out my fridge instead which was much less daunting!

Alisa said...

Any book that appears on a list of classics should be kept, imho. Even if you don't like it. Example: I don't like The Catcher in the Rye, but I do like everything else that Salinger ever wrote, so maybe someday I will like The Catcher in the Rye. It's classic for a reason, after all.

Harriet the Spy should also be kept.

Books with illustrations scattered throughout (not in clumps in the middle) should be kept.

Books with large hunks of boring should be given to the local thrift store (Excluding Les Miserables, unabridged version. It is on a list of classics).

Mrs. Sinta said...

If only alisa lived in Boise, I could have her over for dinner and she could help me sort through my books!