Wednesday, December 21, 2016


The Guardian published an op-ed by a woman whose mother-in-law gave away her books that was storing for her. Read here 

For someone who reads constantly the idea of being bookless is stomach.grabbing anxiety, yet I am no longer a collector.

As a child, buying a book was a reward for good behavior. I haunted the children's room of the Reading Public Library shown above. Now it is the town hall and the town library has been reopened in the converted Highland Street School.

When I lived in Stuttgart, the 7th Corp. Army base had a really good library.

Living with another couple for years in Boston, all of us were avid readers. We had the habit of going to Harvard Square Friday nights for dinner, chatting about the week's activities past and to come, listening to street musicians and then buying books for the week. It was almost an unbreakable requirement.

As we renovated a Boston town house, one room was floor to ceiling books and our bedrooms were full of books. When I moved,  I had less space so my choice of what books to keep was limited but not my reading amount.

I stopped regularly at the local Parker Hill branch of the Boston Public Library. The staff became friends.

My daughter's first job was at the Brookline Library and when I picked her up after work, I would go early to browse and take out what I wanted to read.

The American library in Geneva feeds my reading habit. The annual membership is quickly amortized in comparison to having books sent from the US or UK. I'm never without a book or many at my fingertips.

In Argelès, however, now that my good friend with an English bookstore has died, the choice of what to read locally is more of a challenge. A Kindle does provide book security even if it lacks the sensual touch and smell of paper.

Not since I left the house with the library have I had the desire to keep most books. Once read, there are too many people who are always looking for something to read in their mother tongue. 

Saying that, there are books I've given away and bought more than once such as Alice Walker's Horses Make the Landscape More Beautiful. I've bought it at least four times. I need to buy it again.

There are books I will never, ever give away such as the Book of Kells bought in Ireland.

However, the thought of someone else giving away my books is horrifying. 

If I still had copies of Beverly Gray mysteries, the Landmark series, Thorton W. Burgess stories or Summer at Buckhorn, I would become homicidal if someone gave them away without my permission.  As for the later, I see there are six copies on Amazon for $295, an amount I cannot justify paying. 
There's a New England cookbook used by my grandmother and me today when I want to capture the tastes of the past. I would try and save it in a fire. 

My childhood books were given away by mother without my permission when she moved from a house to an apartment. At the time if she had asked, I would have not been able to take them.

Still I understand the frustration of the writer of the op-ed piece. She was dealing with other mother-in-law and marriage issues. 

As a parent of an adult child and having friends of parents of adult children, I understand the desire not to be a storage shed forever for an offspring's possessions.

On this longest night of the year, I am almost ready to climb under the covers with a mystery that I'm half way thru and hope I can stay awake.It is not a book I will keep once my husband has read it too. But, it will be my decision and that makes the difference.

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