The Inviolability of Books (DOG EAR)

The Inviolability of Books (DOG EAR)

ooks represent a number of things, particularly the containment and storage of thought, knowledge and wisdom. That is why book burnings (by Nazis) and book bannings (by school boards) seems like such an evil thing to those who wish to see humanity reflect on its mistakes, realizations and histories.

And which is why throwing out books made me a bit queasy recently.

You see, I had to intercede in a friend’s medical crisis and breaking into his house revealed that he was a hoarder. Marie Kondo would have run screaming from the piles. Me, I found it a bit disturbing.

Now, happily he’s come to realize (possibly by my flinching response) that he had a problem and is getting his house shoveled out on a weekly basis (so good for him for doing this). But it did make me look at my own house, and that line of books along the bedroom base board, eight feet of paperbacks, magazines, hardbacks. Some read, some “to be read” (who am I fooling) and some long forgotten.

Okay, maybe we all have our problems, right? I mean, my house is infamous for its book collection.

So I went through it all, pulling down each pile, flipping through the books, sneezing at the dust. In the end, I threw out about half of it, took another half to a used bookstore that buys them back, and kept maybe five books. The dust I cleaned up (choked the dustbuster, too). The stacks are gone, the dust removed, and I feel generally better for it.

But it was funny (and not in a ha-ha way) to roll the bin out to the curb the other night and feel the weight of fifty-plus books. A lot of good stories, a lot of bad stories, and a lot of various things in between. But think about this – every book you buy is going to go to the landfill. Either you’ll read it and toss it. Or you’ll read it and resell it (and it will get tossed). Or you’ll swap it out in one of those curbside libraries (ditto). Even if you keep a book you cherish, one you reread yearly just because you love it so, eventually you’ll pass away and someone stuck with handling your estate will have to landfill it. Realize that and maybe parting with dear friendly books (or dull acquaintance books) will be a little easier for you.

Yes, I feel a little sad I had to do this. But then again, I gained back eight square feet of living space. So yes, it did prove to be worth it.