Several months ago I had a talk with a man who owed over 3,000 books. He told me his collection contained a number of leather bound and first editions. He found himself between homes and put his library into a storage unit, one that was not climate controlled. When he went to check on his books a number had turned to dust. The fluctuations between the heat and cold ruined nearly his entire library. Hearing his story brought back fears I’ve had since my own library went into storage.
In 2006 I started the year living in Dallas. By spring I was moving home. The city I loved and where I’s always felt held endless options for me was proving to be a difficult city to make a living. I returned home to Oklahoma. My library in Dallas was scattered in nearly every room of a two bedroom apartment. I’d long since gotten used to needing to sleep around my books. So, moving to Oklahoma, and having to put my library into storage wasn’t something that made me happy. (Money given to me by a family member with the strings of the money wasn’t supposed to buy books, often was used to buy books, which were then snuck into the house.)
When I laid in bed listening to the rain I would worry, almost to the point of having an anxiety attack of what the weather was doing to my books. I had to simply forget that my books were sitting in boxes waiting for me to open them and place them on shelves again. However, hearing the story of this man who lost so many books brought those fears front and center to my mind.
In May I began to check on my books. So many of the boxes had started to collapse and that frightened me. What would be the condition of the books in the boxes that had collapsed? So, I made a trip to Home Depot and bought boxes, tape and paper. Then bringing home four to eight boxes at a time I’ve started to repack my books. However, as I go through the boxes there are some I simply haven’t been able to repack: my paperback editions of Emily of New Moon by L. M. Montgomery, my art and cookbooks, and a number of books on Russian history. In January of next year I plan on a Russian winter, where all of my reading will be on Russian history, biography and novels.
One of the benefits of going through my books this time around is that I found an app called Libib. Beyond just checking on my books I’ve been organizing the books better. Hardback fiction read is boxed apart from hardback fiction unread. And by scanning the books into an app that allows me know where my books are hiding is wonderful. I’m one of those readers who get craving for a specific book. Instead of always buying another copy I want to grab my copy and read it. Now, I’m better able to indulge in those cravings.
I’ve been asked if I’m seeing books I forgot I had. My answer is no. What I am thinking about are the chocolate cookbooks, the Southern food cookbooks (there’s one by Edna Lewis), a book on the most beautiful libraries in the world, and so many more. I’m planning on having all of the books repacked by the middle of September (if I manage to stay in good health). I’d love, by this time next year, to see all of my books back on shelves. Some nights when I see how many novels I’ve read I try to imagine how many bookcases I’ll need to see them all lined up. When I’m having trouble sleeping I just imagine sitting in my autumn decorated library looking around at all of my books. Soon I’ll be able to get them out again and look at the reading I’ve accomplished and the TBR pile that I may never complete.