There is this book drive that ends this week, and the proceeds of the sale are going to some charity libraries, so I'm once again going through all the books I have and trying to get rid of some of them. So far, I dropped off seventy books. And I just found twenty more I want to get rid of. Even for someone who reads over a hundred books a year, this many seems like a lot at one time to just get rid of. I usually try to get rid of books as fast as I read them. I remember in college, where I brought few paperbacks, the ones that I had, I would read over and over. But my life has changed since then, because I do have more space to store things, and I got a huge bookshelf when I got out of school that was filled up. Then I got another bookshelf from my ex, and that got filled up. And now I have several boxes and crates full of unread books in my spare room, things that I need to go through before I move.
The issue really is that a large number of these books were from my dad, and that my dad is never going to give me books again. It probably sounds minor, and probably to most people with most dads, it wouldn't be an issue. But books were probably the largest bond between me and my dad, the one thing that we had in common. I know some of that was that he pushed me into this in his own way. I remember as a girl, wanting him to buy me a book in the Oz series at the long defunct Change of Hobbit, and he said that he would buy me one of "those books" but then he would also buy me a Heinlein book, Podkayne of Mars, and I had to read it. This shows the controlling nature of my upbringing (though I know, this is not like Mommie Dearest and I'm not trying to make it as such), and the ways in which my dad groomed/forced my tastes. I ended up liking Podkayne, and then reading more of Heinlein (even the books I was perhaps too young for at the time).
There is a question here of, how do people find out about books anyway? I have a memory of people in my life recommending certain books, like a girl in eight grade who told me about Stephen King. Or my tenth grade English teacher who recommended Anne Tyler. And I couldn't forget those days in elementary school when we all passed around Flowers in the Attic, reading it cover to cover, particularly the sexy (incest-sexy!) parts. Also, I learned about a lot of books and authors from school, some in high school surely, and being a Lit major in college. I was introduced to a lot of authors and books, some of which I loved, some of which I loathed. Then books you just pick up because the cover looks interesting or because it's in the remaindered bin at the bookstore. I remember picking up Bitten there.
In my case, I certainly would buy books, read book reviews, hear about books from other people, but having my dad send me books that he had read was a cheap and easy way to get books. He generally would screen books and only send me ones that he thought I would like, and I would give him feedback on books, so sometimes he would refine the selections. I would occasionally send him something that I had liked and finished, and would occasionally buy books for him as well. It made me a bit sad seeing the books series that I had ordered for him for the last few Christmases, sitting on his shelf. I think they were unread, but no real way of knowing. I figure the ones that I did get him for last Christmas, he didn't have time to read.
In one way or another, dealing with my dad's death from day one has been two thoughts, one that is, "it's over" and the other one which is, "is it really over? It can't be." Just today, I was telling Kailyn about how I was thinking of books I wanted to order from Amazon, and thought, oh maybe my dad will get me an Amazon gift certificate for my birthday, as he did sometimes. Then the next thought is always, oh wait, no, he won't.
When I was starting to go through my books to plan to give some away, I found a box of books that I had packed when I moved into my current apartment, about six years ago. The box said "unread books" on the outside and it hadn't been opened. I went through it and got rid of books that I was pretty sure that I didn't want to read at some point. And it was hard. Because the books were all from him, and it made me wonder what he was thinking when he put them in the mail to send to me. Did he think actively that I'd like them, I'd might like them, or whatever? And was I disappointing him not reading every single one of them? But the thing I've thought of most is, what do I want to do with the rest of my life, and who do I want to be? Do I want to be someone who holds onto the past with an iron grip or someone who walks away from the past towards a new future? I know I want to be someone who has less junk and crap she doesn't need in her new home, and books I won't read fall into the junk/crap category.