I have been collecting books my entire life, and I won’t tell you how many decades that covers. I still have illustrated nursery rhyme books my great-aunt gave to me in pre-school days. You do not want to pry out of my hands that tattered volume with words underlined by my three-year-old self as I painstakingly figured out how to read on my own. Up until this last move, I still owned the torn and yellowed paperbacks from my teen years of Bradbury, Asimov, and of course, Erich von Daniken with my treasured ancient alien theories.
When I first started earning money with my writing, I collected beautiful boxed and illustrated classics. My intent was to pass on to my grandchildren the library that I had wanted when I was a child. By the time I could afford to buy those expensive volumes, I’d already read most of them, but over the years, I’ve read and re-read treasured stories. The complete collection of Shakespeare alone has been invaluable.
Then there are the first editions from my friends in the romance genre, and the book-of-the-month
classics like Catch-22, and the autographed books from various booksignings spilling off the shelves. Skipping right past my ten-thousand favorite mass market books filling up entire walls, moving on to my reference books, costume books, research books… I don’t think that sentence can possibly end well.
Every room in my house has at least one wall of books, and I have a very large house, with very large walls. Therein lies the difficulty. We are leaving this very large house and moving to one half its size. Not only that, we are moving everything ourselves in a 16’ truck. No professional movers spending weeks boxing up all those books and toting them in and out and up and down as they have been for decades.
A line has to be drawn somewhere, and it has been drawn over my books. We can buy a new bed and a new desk and a new sofa when we get there, so I’m limiting my furniture to heirlooms. But even I realize I cannot fit this many books into a cottage. So these past months I’ve been surveying my shelves through tears, carefully choosing old favorites, and boxing them. My garage is almost full. The rest will have to go. I have one entire shelf of costume books. How do I pick the one to take? I have an entire towering section of illustrated classics—I cannot possibly give up Austen. Or Twain. Maybe Defoe?
Consider your own collection… What books would you take with you? How would you start sorting them? And just to be mean, I'll send a book to the first person who names a favorite that I have in my collection–that I haven't already packed. Go ahead, give it a try, name a favorite book. If nothing else, we'll all acquire new reading lists!
(a hint, those aren't my shelves, so you can't peek!)