Remnant #18: On Rereading

“As you read a book word by word and page by page, you participate in its creation, just as a cellist playing a Bach suite participates, note by note, in the creation, the coming-to-be, the existence, of the music. And, as you read and re-read, the book of course participates in the creation of you, your thoughts and feelings, the size and temper of your soul.”

~Ursula K. Le Guin~

Packing up my house...again. And this means more than the odds & ends & bones & candles & tarot decks & art & means more than just the pots & pans & linens & furniture & papers & clothes. If you are me, it means dealing with the most important (and overwhelming) objects--the books. No really. Look:

And that is just some of them, nowhere near all. And that is after bagging up four bags of them to donate. My first move, my brother joked that I could build a house of books. My second, he asked if I was sure I'd really read all of these books. My third, he asked if I really needed to keep all of these books. My fourth, he said he would move everything except my books. I get it. I really do. This latest move I'm in the midst of now, as I started packing up the bookcases and sorting things through, I first felt excited about seeing old books like seeing old friends. I kept saying, "Oh, this was a great book!" and, "I remember when I got this." But, eventually, I started feeling something almost like guilt.

Too many books. Waaaay too many.  They are my comfort. Wherever I am in the world, if I can just get to the bookstore, I am home. Whenever I move, however strange the new house feels, as soon as I unpack them, I am home. But, all but a few of them are short-term pleasures I savor quickly, then stack against the wall or put in the bookcase with all of the others. That is, until now.

While dusting off these spines this past weekend and boxing them up, I decided that it's time to slow down my constant impulse to find new titles to read. There is so much important literature in my library already. So, from today until at least the start of summer in June, I will only be pulling from my current shelves. It's time to reread what I have and remember what I loved about these books and recall the person I was when I first read it versus the person I am now. I may post about it here and there as I move through the experiment, in the spirit of remembering and celebrating the transformative power of books in my life.

  “Curiously enough, one cannot read a book; one can only reread it. A good reader, a major reader, and active and creative reader is a rereader.”  ~Nabokov~