I admit it, I’m addicted to books. This week, the Friends of the Madison County Library is hosting its bi-annual book sale, and I’m trying to stay away.
I’m overflowing with books. My addiction has led to me acquire books and then hold on to them, often to my husband’s chagrin. It’s gotten so bad sometimes, I’ve hidden my purchases from him, like those occasional clothing purchases. You know ladies, you bring out that blouse later, say a few weeks or so, and he asks, “so, is that new?” And then you can “truthfully” say, “no, I’ve had it a while,” and change the subject quickly. (Men do the same thing with other things; we all know they do.)
Well, it’s that way with books. I’ve got childhood books, my own and those of our kids. I’ve got books that I read while sitting with them at pools and playgrounds when they were little – books that conjure up a memory and a feeling as surely as a certain scent or a turn of phrase.
But as I am getting older, I’m finding the urge to divest myself of “things.” I find a lot of things burden me in some way. I want to own less – to feel weighed down less by possessions, and sometimes even by the associations those possessions bring with them, whether good or bad.
So, thinking this way (and at the urging of my husband), I decided to go through my books. We’ve been moving rooms and furniture around at our house lately, and it’s been a long-standing joke that my collection of books has long ago outgrown my old bookcase.
So I started there. Going through some of those, some long-forgotten, was certainly a walk down memory lane.
For example, I could see the die cast on my love for animals before I was even able to read.
Later, my book club choices from school (something that caused me great anticipation and excitement) reflected that as well. There are the well-worn paperback copies of “Rascal” and “the Call of the Wild.” There’s a copy of the “Tenth Good Thing About Barney,” and “Run Wild, Run Free.”
When I was a young mother, my children and I were very frequent visitors to the Madison County Library, then housed in the basement of the multi-purpose building in Danielsville. It was there that Jennie Ruth Echols presided over the shelves bursting with books for all ages. I spent a lot of time there, both with and without Miranda and Zack. I loved gothic romance in particular, and Jennie Ruth was always ready with a suggested title or author that I might like to give a try. She knew of my particular love for the English writer Mary Stewart, so she always steered me in that direction first.
I miss those days. I looked through my copies of Mary Stewart titles – no, I can’t bear to part with those. Who knows when I might want to read them again? And Sterling North’s “Rascal?” No, I don’t think so.
Now Miranda will laugh at this, but I don’t know where our copy of Hans Christen Anderson’s “Little Match Girl,” is. She must have it with her. It’s a running joke (and a fact) that I cannot read that story without bursting into tears. I can hardly bear to think of it. The little match girl is small and blond, reminding me of my own little girl, and she dies in the snow, alone, dreaming of her grandmother, which of course makes me think of my own mother. I looked for it, at the same time dreading to find it.
After a long and bittersweet afternoon, I had managed to pack up a couple of boxes of books, which I think I’ll be able to live without. (Charles better move them soon though.)
As for the book sale, you heard me say it here, I’m not going – even though it runs through this week, it benefits the library and it’s a great deal on some really good reads….(and I am going on vacation soon).
Margie Richards is a reporter and office manager for The Madison County Journal.