A friend wrote me the other day and described an issue I’ve also had to face:

I’ve struggled with keeping too many books, books I won’t read again, books no one in my house will read again… My paper books are amulets that spark memories I don’t want to forget.

I’ve done one round of book clearing, moving some off my home office bookshelf, and  I need to do another. But the warm memories I have for some of the titles outweighs (so far) my need to clear the space. Some of those books represent real spiritual milestones for me. Some I actually have gone back to for a second read or, at least, for sampling reminders.

For others, I should learn to look through the cold, clear eyes of my friend’s children.

They routinely apologize  to me when they are discarding books. “Mom I know we loved reading this book together when I was ten but I’m not going to reread The Mouse and The Motorcycle…ever.”

I think I’m fairly thick-skinned about the books I have written. I don’t expect them to enjoy any more immortality than most of the books I have held, read and passed along or traded away. I know what I did with my father’s room-sized bookshelf after he died. I kept two or three titles, partly because he had written notes in the page margins. I had enjoyed listening to him tell me about them. But I knew I would not get around to reading them myself. So off they went to the Salvation Army.

I’ve done the same thing with my past book collections over the years. If I still had those past titles on my bookshelf no doubt they would trigger warm memories like the amulets my friend speaks of.

But I know I wouldn’t reread them. Once was wonderful. And once was enough. In the time I have left I want to go on to new books. And I want to honestly recognize that some books I enthusiastically bought are unlikely to actually get read now, so I might as well pass them along so they have a chance to end up with someone who will.

I’ll get around to it. If I can overcome the thought of never seeing them again.

(And as for those books I’ve written, thanks for leaving a review after you read them! That’s one way to pass along your enjoyment even after you shelve the books themselves.)


About Deacon Rick

I am a retired Deacon in Lakeland Florida.
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One Response to Bookshelf

  1. lucy sands says:

    Dear Rick, Although I’ve never written even one book to your many books, you are in a way “giving permission” to me to discard, give away, etc. the many books that I moved to this senior living apartment. when I look at the titles I think about at least reading a few lines but as you say, there are new books to read or those that one has never read. Today is our small group meeting at church and just know that we continue to keep you in our prayers. Hopefully your health is better after that miserable time you spent in the hospital recently. In prayer for you and for Melanie,  Love, Aunt Lucy

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