Emptying the nest is a bitch. Especially if it's filled with books.
First there is the emotional upheaval that comes with the decision to leave a house which holds so many family memories.
Then there's the physical exhaustion from sorting, packing, hauling, and perhaps dumping stuff you've acculumlated since that day you moved into your once pristine abode.
Add to that the boxing of the things that you simply cannot live without.
In my case, that includes books. And more books. And even more books.
Am I kidding myself when I insist that there are very few things in my life which I consider keepers?
My husband Martin and kids are a given. As to the physical and inanimate,there our family photos; an antique desk; two antique brass lamps, which an aunt brought over from Japan where her husband was stationed there; a few knotty pine pieces (my Georgia roots are showing); a 1930s Coca-Cola sign (again, my Georgia roots are deep and strong); a framed poster of Sausalito, painted by Neil Betts; an original Mid-Century Eames rocker; a few wrought iron pieces–
Oh yeah: and those boxes and boxes of books.
Twelve years ago we moved in with 44 boxes of them, so I'd say have done a fairly good job of gutting my book collection, along with my psyche. Talk about a book lover's Sophie's Choice! (Don't worry, that was one of the keepers.)
Believe it oro not, I find it harder for my to give away books than to pack them up, yet again.
Before we bought this house, we'd moved five times in ten year, all the while renting. The moves were hellacious, and much more difficult because our kids were young and had their own issues over what to keep or toss.
Back then I had the dilemma of moving a baby grand piano, too. It had been mine since I was thirteen, and my mother had allowed me to take it from her home when I "settled down," i.e., got married. Based on my pride over it, you'd think I played like Leonard Bernstein. In truth, it was more like Chico Marx, only with all ten fingers. But my meager repertoire of three memorized sonatas did not merit moving that poor piano yet again–
Besides, I needed room for my books.
So many books, so few boxes. How did we end up with so many biographies about Lincoln? Martin collects books on religion, nutrition, Trollope, and dead presidents. I pride myself on my sets of hardcover novels from John Le Carre, Edith Wharton, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Martin Cruise Smith.
And there are no bad E.L. Doctorows.
But since we're downsizing, what is allowed to stay couldnt be a longer list than what should go.
This includes a stray Louis L'Amore or two, not to mention a . Son will take the Michael Crightons. Daughter grabs all the Christopher Buckleys. If I need a fix of either, I know where to find them.
Who knew I had a copy of Cherry Ames, Senior Nurse? El Stranger by Camus is in French. Since I don't read in that language, bon soire to it, and ooh la la to that lucky someone who comes across it, next month at my local library's book sale.
Some books got a reprieve because I like the cover as well as the story, (a trade paperback version of Kay Boyle's Year Before Last) or becuase the title intrigues me (Coming of Age in the Milky Way).
Then there are my humongous research collections. Books on Hollywood filled five boxes, whereas those about my hometown of Atlanta during the turn of the last century fit in just one. And like stoic SS officers, tomes about Nazi Germany lined up dutifully in two of the boxes.
These tomes are near and dear to me because I'll be writing novels based on all these topics. Besides some of these books are out of print, so it's not like I can buy them in digital form, even if I wanted to…
Okay, the truth now: would I want to?
"Just think how easy our move would be, without all these heavy boxes," Martin wheezed as he and Son lug box after box into two storage closets that, I pray, will be overlooked by the prospective buyers traipsing through our home.
He didn't hear me gasp. If he had, he'd have called me silly and pointed out that eBooks allow for highlighting an bookmarking and searching — all of which make them comparable to paper books.
And an eReader is so much lighter: by, say, 28 boxes, even more.
But my books are me.
Eventually we'll be storing all our books in a cloud. Okay, I'll admit it: as a writer, that freaks me out. I love running my eyes over my shelves of books until a title, or great spine art, that stops me cold. I leaf through it, read the opening line, get sucked into the story by an intriguing first paragraph, by an alluring first page…
Am I the only one who thinks books are eye candy?
Forget those twinkling glass chips in the fireplace, or all those tall vases overflowing with roses. To my mind, nothing warms up a home more than a library of books…
But try telling that to your realtor.
Books make a home. Without them, I'm just passing through.
THE BABY PLANNER – A Novel by Josie Brown
In Bookstores Now!
Chosen as one of the "Top 5 Must-Read Spring 2011 Paperbacks" by SheKnows.com
(Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books)
ISBN#: 9781439197127 – Trade Paperback
ISBN# 9781439197134 – BN Nook Edition
ASIN: B0043RSK8U – Kindle Edition
"Brown (Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives) takes baby mania to its illogical, hysterical extreme in this bubbly romp. Thirty-seven-year-old Katie's biological clock is ticking like a time bomb, and she turns her baby obsession into a wildly successful consultant gig planning nurseries for pregnant women too rich, clueless, bedridden, or busy to do the task themselves.
Even grieving widower Seth, who works with Katie's child-shy husband, Alex, on a demanding new business venture, needs Katie's services to help him manage his perplexing new role as a single dad. But what begins as a light foray into Bugaboo country turns into something bigger than a satire of status-obsessed Bay Area yummy mummies as Brown takes a dark look at the fears of parenthood and family, with Katie's heartbreaking longing for a child unveiling a disturbing reality about her marriage and family. Still, the message from the somber realities is one full of hope: love makes a family, commitment keeps it together."