11 January 2010
You wouldn't believe the ideas that have been running through my head lately. Be prepared for a long line of Charmed Earth posts. All of you know, or at least most of you know, that I teach high school English. So it's safe to assume I own shelves and boxes of books. I have three floating shelves here in the office boasting my complete Harry Potter and Twilight hardback collections, along with my husband's charmingly vintage copies of Mice and Men and The Yearling. We have a three layer shelf in the basement entertainment room with travel books, film books, and books about baseball. Upstairs, I have Love in the Time of Cholera, T.C. Boyle's latest novel, The Women, and his latest collection of short stories, Tooth and Claw, stacked at my bedside. In the living room, I've propped up more T.C. Boyle, my David Sedaris and Ruth Reichl collections, my newest Billy Collins collection of poetry, and the newest teen Vampire read--The House of Night series (I at least borrowed those from my little sister Molly).
Then there's the trunk of my car. I don't even remember what's packed away there. And I am pretty sure my beach bag has my copies of The Joy Luck Club and How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents hiding underneath my sun hat. Oh, and don't forget the 20-some-odd cookbooks stacked in my re-vamped pantry. I do feel proud that I used Mollie Katzen's The New Moosewood Cookbook tonight to make the Eggplant Curry. It wasn't bad. I added some light sour cream, and I enjoyed the healthy meal.
Oh. Back to the books I keep at home. Don't worry. Those books aren't going anywhere. Yet. I will never part with my complete sets of Harry Potter and Twilight. I get nervous even loaning them to a friend. But beyond the books of my home, I have books at work. Now, unlike most of my English teacher friends, I do not have my own classroom at work. I keep my books, my pens, my folders, and whatever else I seem to "need" in my office. And in this office there are shelves of more books. I am not ready to part with some of them, especially the ones I use every year in class or to re-read--Chuck Palahniuk's Rant, Sloane Crosley's I Was Told There'd Be Cake, Jhumpra Lahiri's The Namesake and Interpreter of Maladies, and my beloved Leaves of Grass (Walt Whitman) and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain). I can't donate those. But the extra copies of Like Water for Chocolate and Maus? Or the old book club reads like The Red Tent and The Soul of Baseball? Or the stacks from old college classes like Young Adult Literature and Contemporary World Literature? I don't need those in my office. Students never borrow them because there is no way for them to pick them up. They sit, gathering dust and taking up space.
Solution? I gave myself permission to keep the novels I teach, which are all annotated anyway; the books that relate to the ways to best Educate (for now); the top fifteen novels, short story collections, essays that I love; and my poetry collections (I use them constantly in Creative Writing). I threw the rest in a plastic bin (the total was over 50) and carried them up to the library. My good librarian friends are going to cover them, catalog them, and shelve them. And if I ever decided that I just must re-read The Master and Margarita or Saving Fish From Drowning, I can clock in a few extra steps and check it out.