Monday, September 6, 2010

Creeping in our petty prints from day to day...

Wheresoever they burn books, they shall also, in the end, burn human beings. --Heinrich Heine
What if they don't necessarily BURN the books, but they, in perhaps a "fit of pique" (euphemism for Complete And Total Temper Tantrum of the First Order) they, say, are looking for a particular book on bookshelves that are crammed this way and that, doublestacked, loaded to the ceiling, and generally in disarray, and can't find said book?

And what if they, at that particular moment, leap to the next step of logic which works only in their own particular psyche--not that they should enlist someone else to help them, or perhaps engage in a catalogue of book locations--but rip every goddam book from the shelves and decide to start over, screaming like Rodan the whole time?

Three weeks later, the piles have been...lessened.

In yet another "fit of pique" (euphemism for Another Full Tilt Temper Tantrum, Wild Hair and Screeching Included), I (oh, fine, forget they, we all know it's me) pulled out a card table and started hauling books out. The sign for the card table read "Free Books. Seriously. Take One. Take Ten. Take Them All. I don't care. Just cart them away and feel good about the fact that you are helping me to not die under the rubble of 15,000 paperbacks."

At the end of the day, there were nine books left on the table.

I love this neighborhood.

We will not discuss how many books remain on the floor to be disposed...or shelved...but hey. I got rid of at least 100 of them! J. said that it had nothing to do with the kind of books or the genre, but the beating of the heart that is quickened by the word "FREE." Anyone can tell J. from me that just because I am the literary equivalent of an intellectual savant doesn't mean that people just picked things up because they were labeled free. I saw them out there. They perused. They looked. They selected things that might be interesting, or at least look like something they might want to give to someone as a Christmas present.

You see, you can always tell the books I have either (a) loaned out, or (b) bought used. If it is a book I bought new and read, it looks exactly like new. I owe this talent to my mother's original bookstore owner employer, Marie. She owned Bittercreek Books in Vernal, Utah. Very early on (fifth grade or so) she noticed that I was a voracious reader, and that there was no way my parents could keep up with my junkie-level reading habit. I had already devoured everything in the grade school library and the public library as well; so she decided to help out. She taught me how to read a book so that it remained looking like new. Don't open the book too wide (it breaks the spine), don't rumple pages, don't besmudge the cover. Once those basic rules had been established and vetted, her entire bookstore was my jungle gym...and I have been unable to ever break the habits in which she trained me.

Basically, it means that if I talk about a book with someone and promise them I will loan it to them, I will bring it to them and they will say "This looks new! I can't read this!" And I will reassure them it'll be okay, and that yes, I really have already read this specific copy of the book before. They will then suffer massive guilt over violating said pristine-looking book, even if it has been read three or four times by yours truly, and I will feel guilty for them feeling guilty when said book comes back with cover whacked, spine suffering scoliosis of bibliography, and general wear and tear.

I never know what people do with books that trashes them; the only real incidents I've had have involved me reading in the bathtub, and even then I usually already have a duplicate of said book in question. I have intimations, however. My mother takes the paperback, curls back the cover and pages she's read, and proceeds from there. I suffer heart palpitations even thinking about it.

Downside to getting to read everything you can get your hands on in a public bookstore; you really can't ever feel like a book is your own. It's just on loan and always needs to be kept treasured and carefully.

Meh. I got rid of a hundred books. 14,900 left...anyone care for a tour of the reorganized Librarinth?

P.S. No. I did not find the book for which I was looking. I also did not find two other books which it suddenly occured to me should be there. Dammit. So much for the checking books out of the private library.


Most Happy Girl said...

I fully understand your need to keep books looking nice while you read them. My dad taught elementary school when I was a small child. As a result, we never had money for new books, but we knew how to use the local library. We also had access to Dad's classroom stash of books, provided (like you and the bookstore volumes) returned them looking like we'd never touched them. I know have a library much like yours (but on a somewhat smaller scale), with books that I have read several times but don't look like it. I also suffer palpitations when I see people "abusing" books as they read them. And I have been known to let someone keep a book they've borrowed when they try to return it falling apart. Of course, they don't get to borrow again, poor things. That's the problem of dealing with someone's form of OCD. If you don't understand it, and laugh at it, it will come back to bite you in the butt.

Juliann said...

I know this free book sale was a thinly veiled plot to be social and meet all the bikers in the hated biker gear that go by, but seriously, you'll get almost the same excitement out of dropping them by the stack in the Books for Charity bin outside Whispers Cafe on 1100 E. . . and next time I challenge you to get rid of 200! It will be liberating. And just think of those poor kids on the res who could benefit from all the teen angst and gothic romance and snarky memoirs I know you collect!