My closet has a perennial Donations Box. I think I’m pretty good at avoiding the Urge to Hoard. My spouse, on the other hand – has boxes of items he has yet to open. Before I take the moral high ground however, I look up at the bookshelves. This is what I cannot throw away. I can thin the collection, cull the shelves, but even with the advent of Kindles and e-Books and electronic news gathering, these are my obsession, and I do keep buying more of them. I’ve convinced him not to keep the murder mysteries – the whodunit’s have already revealed their secrets.
There are books about Hawaii, books about China and Asian history, dictionaries of synonyms and antonyms, rhyming dictionaries, grammar guides, and a plethora of books about California history, especially San Francisco. Thirty years of scouring the bookstores and collectibles shows. Pulled from the carts at a place I don’t have time to read them before paying the penciled price carefully written in a wispy hand inside the cover. These erasable marks remind me that each one of these hardcover books has been handled, reviewed and priced by someone who believes in their inherent worth. Sometimes, I do give the history books away, because they are so poorly written. All twenty-four of the Anita Blake, Supernatural Detective, series takes up shelf space – I just know if I wait ten years I will forget how it all turns out, and besides, I cruised at top speed through the fun action packed novels, surely, I missed some deathless prose.
Everybody knows I’m never reading Shakespeare again, those volumes went out in the boxes early on. But e. e. cummings, Emily Dickinson? I am still gleaning new meanings all these years since the first reading in high school or college. Guides to Wiccan practice, Encyclopedias of Goddesses, One Thousand Mandarin Chinese cue cards in their specialty built box, Alexander McCall Smith’s wonderful series of Botswana’s Number One Ladies Detective Agency – just writing this series up makes me long to read them all from the very beginning again. There has to be a reason for these particular interests and in this second half of my life, maybe I can make the sheroes in my books come alive in a way those dusty scholars and verbose academics never bothered to do. Or maybe, I will just lose myself in the Supernatural for awhile. Hey, if I was a vampire, there would be no rush, the promise of immortality lies in re-reading all my books, and in the possibility of writing even better ones. Then I remember they cannot taste chocolate, so I get back to writing.
By Paul DeLong
On March 28, 2022
Lovely, relatable piece. The humor comes through well. I didn’t know vampires could not taste chocolate, thanks for the public service information. Is there a relationship between chocolate and writing? If so, I hope you write about it! 🙂