Friday, June 3, 2016


I find myself sitting in my studio space surrounded by piles of books. I had this great idea about a year ago to go through them all and keep only the ones I love. Yes, I read the Marie Kondo book about tidying up and how my life would change. It is true that my life has changed but I'm not sure it is tidy, in this category at least.

I don't have thousands of books or anything, just hundreds. I do have a box full and ready to be donated to the library. The rest are piled in nice little piles collecting dust on the floor instead of on the four different shelves they used to sit. I find myself stuck in a rut with this clearing out the books thing. One of the main reasons is because I am emotionally attracted to many of my books. There are a handful that I will keep until they or myself are gone from age. The rest fall in to a few different categories. Memory, loss of information and tactile.

When I look at a book I remember the content and where I was when I read it. The events in my life are tied to a memory and that memory is represented by a book. I know that this is just an emotional attachment and it would be better for me to let some of them go. I know this because I can remember books and where I was at the time etc without owning the book. Case in point, Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha. I checked it out from a library when I was seventeen and read it in two days. I remember the sofa and room I sat in while I read it. I remember the person I was in love with at the time and I remember the vivid visuals my mind created as I read the book. I have never owned a copy.

The other kind of attachment to books I am experiencing is the fear of losing information. There are several art books that I have not because I will read them but because they have some good reference material or something like that. As I write this I am seeing how silly this all sounds. Clearly I have a few favorites and the rest I never really look at so why keep them? If I haven't opened the book in fifteen years I doubt I will open it anytime soon.

The final category is tactile. There are some books I have because I like the way they feel in my hand, the type of paper it has, the size, or even the smell of the book. The possibilities for what waits behind the cover feeds the adventurer in me. The book will stimulate all the senses. Those books are rare and possibly the ones I should keep.

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