For the first time in my life I am considering thinning my library. Actually, I’m not considering it, I am going to do it. Juxtaposed to this is the fact that for the first time in life I am actually planting flowers in the yard. Now my library has to be in excess of 1,000 books at this point. The very notion of thinning my library, at this point more than 1,000 books in size, has always been anathema to me. However, the time has come. Something about the sanctuary of open space is at play here. I’ve been dazzled by watching the newly planted flowers bloom. A rose, I can’t remember the specific type, along with some Pansies and Spider Flowers, known as Cleome’s, are all in bloom. Whenever a new flower bursts forth, my eyes often wet up, the beauty moves me so.
The task of choosing which books to store or give away and which to keep on the shelves will be guided by several things. First, some of the books are signed by my father, a few by my mother, and one or two by Poppop, my mother’s father. They stay. Others are gloriously beautiful and they too will stay, like the 1937 Random House publication of James Morier’s “The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan,” illustrations by Cyrus Leroy Baldridge, and the 1938 Heritage Club’s publication of Russian author Dmitri Merejcovski’s book, “The Romance of Leonardo Da Vinci,” with more than 100 reproductions of Da Vinci’s work. These books, like many others, are family members.
There are other books that will stay as well. Books by Steinbeck, Dickens, Tolstoy, Updike along with non fiction works like Shelby Foote’s breathtaking three-volume history of the Civil War and Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Team of Rivals”. And, yes, there are more.
I know too that some of the books I donate or give away will likely bring joy to others. I hope so. To read a good book is to experience the blooming of a life. At least it is to me. I develop emotional bonds with books. “Steinbeck: A Life in Letters” has affected me more than any other, and that is saying something because I am, if anything, a voracious reader.
While both books and flowers bloom, books hold the edge, because they bloom simply by opening to the frist page. Flowers are far more independent creatures, which is how it should be. Anyway, the Spider Flowers are in bloom now and emotional bonds abound.
Life is good.