"One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one
is contantly making exciting discoveries."
Unless hit by a staggering bolt of get-off-your-butt-and-start-moving adrenaline, I'm often a slow starter. Suspecting the bottom shelf of books had been sitting in dried pee for months, I had trouble rushing right into the cleaning mode. I mean, really, who's going to be down on the floor sniffing the carpet? Who's going to suddenly want to read about gaseous Walter?
Sure there was a natural resistance on my part to avoid the aroma of urine for as long as I could, but I think the main reason for my foot-dragging was the thought of throwing out so many beloved books. Which, I believe, begs the question what puts a book in the "beloved" category?
I have a thing about books. I love to read. I love to collect. I love to stroll leisurely through bookstores, large or small, even on the internet. Can you say Amazon.com? As much as I like to curl up with a suspenseful mystery where a super-sleuth police detective matches wits with a psycho so creepy I want to sleep with the lights on, or be entertained by a delightful love story with a happily-ever-after ending, I especially like children's picture books with short, readable stories, and beautiful illustrations. Mmmmmmm. They conjure up memories of naptime with Mother, before which she'd read me a sleep-inducing story.
Since my children have grown up, the only reason I have to spend time with kids' books is to delight my inner child. And in doing so, there are certain books, that I just cannot resist. It's strange I know, but some books speak to me: "Take me home," one might say. Or, "I'll be your friend forever." Unlike a bottle of Stoli talking to an alcoholic, books pose no adverse effects. In my way of thinking, the money spent is somehow considered an investment rather than a debt.
And after awhile, as with other collections - fabric, knick-nacks, pens, greeting cards, journals, etc. - the books pile up. The need for another bookshelf presents itself as the cherished "opscules" (I just discovered that word!) are crowded into spaces and crannies too small to hold them all. Alas, the books on the bottom shelf present themselves as targets for a certain feline pee-shooter.
But in the hustle and bustle of every day life, the only book that really matters is the one Iam currently reading - the one lying open by the side of the bed. The overflowing bookcase collects dust; the books sit there quietly, no longer singing their particular siren song. It's sad but true. The stories have not changed, nor have the illustrations. Sadly, it is the reader who has moved on, forgetting most of the special titles. I am ashamed to admit this, but what is one to do?
Not wanting to face the fact that I was going to have to toss many of my forgotten friends, I resisted the job of cleaning up the stinkiness. However, like most dark clouds, this tale has a silver lining. I reverently picked up each book, removed its dust cover (should be renamed pee-cover) and took a deep whiff. Surprisingly almost all the books smelled of ink or age rather than cat urine or roach poop. This is a good thing! I had to say a gentle goodbye to a couple of classics, but mostly the books had been granted a reprieve.
And I became reacquainted with some very special stories. As with fine crystal or china, I wiped each cover down with a soft cloth. I thumbed through the pags. I read snippets of tales that (re)tweaked my desire for more. What might have been a sad and painful job began to take on the life of the stories themselves. It was looking like there was going to be a happy ending. One final misting of Lysol and the books are ready to go back on the shelf.
I'm thinking I need to rearrange things. One lesson I learned from this experience is to put my favorite books on the higher shelves. But, more importantly, I need to set aside some time to read these books, so I don't forget how good they make me feel.
So many books .... so little time.