I will soon be moving to a new home. I am very excited as my girlfriend and I will be moving in together and I get to decorate! Whee! I don't actually mind most of the process of moving house, packing and unpacking are kind of fun. But I'm not a fan of lifting heavy boxes of books. Nor of my girlfriend throwing out her back and then I am left to carry everything myself... one handed... up hill both ways.
When the whim strikes me I will go through my collection of books and weed, attempting to make the size manageable. This whim comes especially before I am about to move. I have books that I would like to read at some point and I consider if I actually will get to that point. If I have read the book I consider whether I would read it again. I consider if it has the old book smell and if I donate it to the library they would actually use it.
Mostly, however, I consider the relationship I have with them. When I became interested in origami when I was eleven my aunt gave me a book of origami that she had when she was my age. Even though I rarely do any folding these days I keep it because I do fold once in a while, and it reminds me of my aunt's kindness. There is my copy of Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver that I have read and reread and still love. Practical books on gardening and vegetarian cooking alongside antique stuffed animal Steiff price guides and the first six Harry Potter books. There is Kafka from high school and Maus and Hemingway from college.
However, if I could only keep a few books I would choose my knitting books and a volume or two of poetry. The relationship I have with my knitting books is an indispensable part of my practice of knitting. The inspire, teach, and encourage me to keep going. I know that the authors of these books share with me a love of craft and I feel as if we share the secret to a happy life, one dedicated to doing the things we love. It is like having tea and playing a game of chess with an old friend, stimulating and relaxing, joyful and contemplative.
I cannot comprehend my life without poetry. The pull and thrust of words, the way they slide on my tongue as I read Whitman aloud, how they give me back to myself, is worth carrying the box up three more flights of stairs. Every poem contains the possibility to shape my life each time I read it. I need these books with me, to revel in the sound of words. I need these courageous poets, who put so much of their own lives on the page that others might taste life in a different way.
My relationship with my books is one of the most important relationships in my life. Through sickness and in health, til death do us part, I will be reading.