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Saturday, December 19, 2009

My Books

That is how it is. This is how it got that way. ----------
I go through the bags of books my customers bring in, figuring out the credit to give for them and sorting them a little as I go. Every now and then one of the books I am handling catches my interest and I set it aside on the counter. When I get a moment, I look at it more closely, browse it a bit, and if it still looks like something I want to read I drop it into a box behind the counter. Books that I KNOW I want to read go instantly into the box. When the books start to overflow the box I haul them up to my apartment, where the box goes on the floor, but with the books I know I'm going to read removed and put onto the shelves where they belong. (These automatic keepers are almost always fiction by one of the authors I enjoy, and the fiction shelves in my apartment are the best organized and have the fewest duplicates. I am one of those oddballs who like to reread books periodically, who thinks that rereading a favorite book is like sitting down to visit with an old friend. You know what to expect and won't get any surprises, but you know you'll enjoy yourself.) If there is room in a bookcase, I pull the books out and shelve in it. Usually a few of the books go into another box, an outgoing box, with the move accompanied by raised eyebrows and some puzzlement over why they ever looked interesting. I always assume I must have been in one of my dreamier moods for them to have appealed to me. If you have looked at my Flickr set, you know what my book accumulation looks like. A couple of the shelf areas hold the books I know I want to keep, the rest are the to-be-read shelves. When I feel like reading something, these are the ones I grab a book from. I'd guess that between a third and a half of the books get discarded at this stage: either the subject matter is too boring or the writing style doesn't appeal to me. Or I'm in the wrong mood for the book. I am too embarrassed to even guess at the number of times a few of the books have made the round trip from store to floor to store to floor again before I finally give up on them or (rarely) kept them. Periodically I go through the shelves and do my own version of the "Concentration" game, looking for duplicates on all the shelves. Or triplicates. Or quadruplicates. Yeah, sometimes I have stashed away four or five copies of the same book over the years. This is one reason I did the photo op -- I plan on using the pix to type up a quick author-title-shelf index I can use to sort and thin out the library. Every now and then I stumble across a book that made the cut and is on the shelves and have no clue why it is there, a book that is so esoteric or obscure or obviously boring that I assume I must have been sleepwalking every time I handled it. Every now and then gravity and coincidence have added books to the box behind the counter, but I usually weed them out as soon as I see them. Either I have Gremlins or my system isn't as fool-proof as I'd like it to be. Since I already have the grey beard at this point in my life and the flow of books going upstairs isn't tapering off, I am pretty sure I won't live long enough to read them all. But I'll still die happy. TBC (Me)