Do your bookshelves tell the story of your life?
There are only a few books that I wish to have for all eternity. And when I say “few”, I mean 30 moving boxes full of books.
Some of the happiest hours of my happy childhood were spent in the Kershaw County library. Only now, after a recent move, do I realize I unwittingly created a library in my home.
And I’m a little puzzled by how I came to have a personal library this big.
See I’m not a book collector. I’m a reader – a “wait for the paperback” kind of girl who later discovered the utility and economy of ebooks.
I’m not the sort to proclaim my love and appreciation for books by writing 5 star Amazon and Goodreads reviews. Instead, I quietly compliment authors by passing their books on to other like-minded readers. (Okay, and I do some monthly book reviews, too.) “Book matchmakers” like me don’t usually accumulate a lot of books because we’re always thrusting our books into the hands of others.
I would love to blame my husband for all the books collecting dust on our shelves. He’s an easy scapegoat, being a great lover of heavy tomes of American history, presidential biography and anything considered a “classic”.
But, as I look through these bookshelves, what I also see is a visual diary of my life.
Mixed in with the memoirs, travelogues and Oprah Book club picks, there’s a treasure trove of memories, souvenirs, and gifts.
There’s a signed copy of Gloria Steinem’s 1992 book Revolution from Within – a memento from meeting the feminist icon in my college years.
There are the Fodor’s guides I carried with me to the beaches of Costa Rica, on a bus through hair pin curves in the Ecuadorean Andes and walking the streets of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.
There are dozens of cookbooks. Some of which have merely been pretty picture books for me. Others, though, are stained and dog-eared, like Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. (Trust me and make Mark’s “Shrimp, My Way” one of your go-to recipes.)
And then, there’s David Leite’s The New Portuguese Table Cookbook. On pg. 156 is the “tortilha com chourico” – the first recipe Anonymous Hubby and I made together. It’s a frittata that’s delicious for breakfast, lunch or dinner. But to me, it just tastes like love.
The shelves are full of gifts like The Sheltering Sky from an English friend and M.K. Gandhi’s The Law and The Lawyers from a colleague. And my favorite gift – a 5 lb, 1221 page collection of Jane Austen’s novels from Hubby on our first Valentine’s Day together. It was this gift (along with the DVD of the BBC’s 1995 version of Pride & Prejudice) that said “he’s a keeper”!
And mixed in there, too, is “The Poetry of Pablo Neruda” and V.S. Naipaul’s A Turn in the South – books for Hubby that bear my heartfelt inscriptions. It’s fun to pull them from time to time and reminisce about the early days of our relationship.
And, oh, there are all the books I’ve meant to read, but never got around to. Books by Isabel Allende, Bill Bryson, and Junot Diaz. Books about Eva Peron and Edna St. Vincent Millay. The more ebooks I read, the more I worry I’ll never get around to reading through the rest of my “physical” library.
My bookshelves are a diary of my interests, experiences and aspirations.
Perusing them is like a stroll down memory lane. I should take that stroll more often…
What are your books saying about?
(P.S. If you want to snoop through other people’s book shelves, head over to Modern Mrs. Darcy….)