Today has been one of those precious days that you set aside in your memories to come back to later when the days are dark and cold, to warm yourself by as though it’s a fire burning in the fireplace. Time with my family, getting things done, and in the midst of the doing, taking time to smell the books…..I meant roses. Actually, no, I mean books. Anyone else do that? Maybe it’s because I worked in the library for years, but I do tend to sniff my books occasionally. Weird, but true. I love books. And everything about them. Including their smell.
Today has been about bringing all of the books in our home to one area and putting them on shelves. Over the years of collecting books, we’ve had some tucked on bookshelves in nearly every room in the house. So if you were looking for a particular book, often you would just give up before you’d go through all the possibilities. Today I have channeled my inner librarian and sorted by different groups–the books from Maemae’s house, the children’s stories, some separated out–like the Berestain bears and the chapter books and the fairy ones and the Star Wars and Cars ones. I’ve even gotten a little crazy and “alpha by author” ‘ed our Junior fictions. I have yet to start on my books, and the space is dwindling. Obviously I have some culling to do. I know, it pains me to even think it. But I’d rather do that than get rid of any more of the children’s books.
And that is just something I can’t do. As the day progressed and I saw and heard my children’s reactions to having their books put away where they can see them all in a glance, I knew there was no way that I could get rid of any of their books anytime soon. And in part it was because many of these books are a part of my story as well.
Aub, as she surveyed the nearly done shelving of our “Junior Fiction” books, said, “I feel really vulnerable and out there with all of these books together like this for anyone to see.” She touched one set of books and then another, “These were my third grade world…..these I loved when I was in the fifth grade.” And then there’s the Harry Potter series. She and Harry grew up together think. I know what she means. As I shelved some of the oldest ones we have, I remembered my own fifth grade year. And high school. And the book Mama and Daddy bought for me when I turned six. All there.
Our Princess was thrilled that she got her own shelves for her fairy books and the Junie B books and the Magic Treehouse series. Though we’d gotten that set for her sister at least twelve years ago, those are the ones she jumped into after she first learned to read. Those will always be precious stories to us.
Cooter sat on the rug tonight, and asked us all to “keep it down” please because he wanted to read. He pulled out books that he hasn’t looked at in ages, because he could put his hands on them now. Only this time he saw them with a new lens–for the first time, he is seeing them through the eyes of a reader. At one point today, as we were working on shelving, I looked and all three had a book OPEN in their hands, and they were reading for a moment.
Yes, I think this is a very good thing.
I thought we had shelved all of the children’s books, and I was beginning to breathe a little easier about having room for my books. And then we found one last bin of books from my Mama’s that we’ve had for a while. As I saw the sorted piles growing, I realized I needed another shelf to hold these. These books had Cooter exclaiming, “Oh that’s one of my favorites!” several times. Princess, as she was helping me get them out of the bin, had to stop every few minutes and flip through one and read several words. So sweet. And my college girl, Aub, saw the lift-the-flap board book that I remember from long ago, and said, “Oh this was my very favorite book EVER! I love this book. See all of the children’s names. I used to say I liked this one, not that one, that one’s okay…..”
Umm, so no, of course that one wasn’t in the give away pile.
It is funny and beautiful to me the way these stories and mine are interconnected. There are books that touch one’s life and never let go. They never really leave, woven into the tapestry of who we are. In truth, I think that I probably have fewer of those in my adult fiction and non-fiction books than I have in the children’s books that bring back memories.
Maybe if I look at it that way, it won’t be too hard to cull some of mine.
At least I hope so. Because I won’t say goodbye to the children’s stories. They’re just that good.
Love and wishes for a good book to read to all.