Although I didn’t think ahead of time that I was going to do it, I am finding myself in the midst of my semi-annual (twice a year) bookcase clean-out. Or I could just say book clean-out because I seem to have them stacked in all sorts of places, waiting to go to the library as donations, or finding a place to remain. This time, I’m even donating some large format books. It’s an interesting exercise because it’s a little like looking at a mini-“this is your life” video as the books get sorted or discarded, noticing how my interests and tastes have evolved.
The first section of bookshelves nearest the kitchen is prime real estate for books I love and use the most: cookery books by hip, healthy cooks such as Andrea Reusing, Nigel Slater, Alice Waters, Deborah Madison, Holly Davis, Heidi Swanson. Bookending them are Julia Child, the Conrans, Ronald and Felicity Dahl, the River Cottage guy and the River Cafe in London cookbooks. A dozen each of Japanese and Chinese cookbooks, dim sum, bento box, asian grill, noodles galore, tofu and soba paperbacks are now grouped together on the third shelf down. This reorganizing and culling out has inspired me to look through some of my favorites (Holly Davis and Andrea Reusing) once again.
In the middle section are two shelves of Taoist and Zen poetry, writings, translations and books about the I-Ching, including half a dozen translations of that venerable book. There’s a mini-library of books about Cape Cod and the North Shore: National Seashore volumes featuring towns of Eastham, Wellfleet and Truro; books about the stone quarries in Rockport. New England Transcendentalists, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s writings and Henry David Thoreau’s journal of his time on the Cape meet halfway on a shelf with Taoist poetry translations by Red Pine and Zen writings by Alan Watts.
Finally, there’s enough room without having to lay books flat onto vertically shelved books (except for my two-volume boxed set of the I-Ching at the ready whenever it’s needed.) Whenever that kind of cramming has overflowed, it’s time to cull them out. It happens often in August, for some reason: must be because it’s so hot and one of the most uncomfortable times to do it.
There are five cartons of books to load into the car and take down to the public library today. Wednesday is their donation day and I’d just as soon have them out of the house so that I can enjoy the books that now have more breathing room. I’ve been remonstrating with myself lately about continuing to buy books when there’s no more room, but am glad to see how much richer my library is now than it used to be.
At the library, I’ll have a chance to look up and borrow some of the books that were suggested at the memoir writing class last week. It’s an opportunity to broaden my reading without buying more volumes, at least not today.