After 4 months in over priced storage, my boxes of books have finally been freed and I've been unpacking them today. Our current house is a quarter of the size of the old one so while I miss the space of our old house there was a terrible tendency to never get rid of anything. We didn’t need to be particularly selective about what we brought into the house as there was always room. We didn’t need to worry about the ‘one in, one out’ rule. So, when we moved out in October it was a real eye opener about how much stuff we had accumulated in 5 years. Not to mention all the crap the previous owner had left us... I don’t think I had got rid of a single item of my sons’ clothing or toy, not even the free ones you get on Kids Magazines. Cooking utensils were another shocker, the twice used Spiraliser, the never used Cookie Cutters our neighbours used to buy for our son, the huge industrial sized Raymond Blanc saucepan set I’d got from a shoot. Also, never used. Stuff, stuff and more stuff. Because the move came about out of the blue and happened in a relatively short space of time, there was no time to be sentimental. Everyday I was taking a least one trip to the Charity Shop with bagfuls of things. Things I knew we wouldn’t be able to take with us. Part of me felt sad that my life was so out of my control that I didn’t even have time to decide what I might want to keep, but another part of me felt liberated that actually, it just had to go. It made me feel a bit lighter.
But books. are a hard thing to part with. Predominantly because a lot of the books I have belonged to my Dad. My two brothers are not really the sentimental types and did not want to keep any of my Dads’ books when he passed away. They kept photographs and a few choice knick knacks, nothing more. But I could not let the books go. They are of no monetary value but have huge sentimental value to me. For example, my Dads Childhood Sports annuals are full of newspaper clippings about Sport event’s that were happening at the time.
Then his books from when he was older are full of scribbles and underlined with quotes he must have liked.
From 'The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist'
From 'Down and Out in Paris and London'
Written in the back of a book.
No idea if he copied this from something or wrote it himself.
They are like Diaries in a way, with these notes and scraps of paper in them. And while they wouldn’t mean anything to anyone else, they mean something to me, and maybe will to my son one day. (That’s another justification for me to keep them). The Grandson and Grandfather who never met. They help me understand a little more, the person who kept a roof over my head but also the person who kept himself very distant from me. Some of the books are great, classic books, ‘Animal Farm’, ‘Last Exit to Brooklyn’, ‘The Works of Oscar Wild’, ‘The Old Curiosity Shop’. But others are a bit more eclectic. ‘Venus in Furs’, Several Erich Von Daniken books about Spacemen visiting Earth, a book about Aleister Crowley, poetry books.
Since getting the books home and unpacking them, we still don’t have enough space. So more of my books are going. Books I’ve enjoyed but books I know I’ll never read again ‘Angela’s Ashes’, ‘The Da Vinci Code’, ‘A Boy Called It’, but again, there are some books I simply can’t part with. Particularly my Douglas Copeland books. I was happy to let ‘Microserfs’ go, but not the others. ‘Girlfriend in a Coma’ is my favorite book and the one I’ve re-read the most. My friend Tracey bought it for my birthday. I’d never heard of him before but soon found myself devouring his books. ‘Miss Wyoming”, ‘Generation x’, ‘All Families are Psychotic’ ‘Hey Nostradamus’. I used to pass ‘Books Etc’ on my way home from work which didn’t help my book addiction.
And, as I’ve been looking through my books again I’ve noticed all my underlings and scribbles.
From 'Generation X'
From ' High Fidelity'.
From 'Black Hole Focus'.
And while I understand that we are all supposed to be de-cluttering for a simpler, happier existence I just can't get rid of these. Reading a book that belonged to someone else not only gives you a little bit of insight into what interested that person at a particular time in their life (like music) but you never know what else you might find among the pages. I hope that when my son gets older he will enjoy books, and our family books. I love having books around the place, it's good for my son in a world that is increasingly screen focused. My books might give him an insight to his relations and in turn maybe help him understand himself a bit better. That's what I'm telling myself anyway. And with that I will leave you with my favourite Douglas Copeland quotes: