- by Charlotte Hubbard
As you read this, I’ll be up the ladder painting my office. That means I spent the past couple of days boxing up BOOKS–boxes and boxes of BOOKS. And because we’re looking to downsize to a condo next year, I face the question of what to pitch and what to keep.
What books can you not live without?? What are your absolute keepers?
I ran across one in the closet that ranks as the Keeper of all Keepers because it’s my biography, as written by my niece for a sophomore English project. The front matter is on purple paper, the main book is on neon pink, and the photos at the end are on turquoise–along with a page called About the Author, where Chris put her own mug shot and blurb, just as she’s seen in the backs of my books. But the dedication page tells why I will never, ever pitch this book: “I would like to dedicate this book to my Aunt Charlotte. You have always been there for me, through the good times and the bad. Thank you for everything you have done for me.”
Chris leaves for college in two weeks. Of all her mom’s and dad’s families, only my sister and I have done that, which makes Chris a very special young lady. She lives halfway across the country–came to stay for a week or two each summer since she was seven–and I like to think that those weeks we shared influenced her decision to get an education and fly higher. And she values writing. Wants to be an English teacher.
Which means the time I spent NOT WRITING while she was here will be the most positive, productive time I’ve probably spent in my life as a writer. And now that Chris is moving on–and my husband and I are looking to move on–I have a different take on what’s worth hauling from this home to the next.
So what did I give up?
For starters, I donated my 1962 Americana Encyclopedias to the library. I was SO glad not to destroy them, as I’ve had them since fourth grade! You look smart just having these navy volumes with gilt lettering on your shelves! But Internet research has rendered them a lot of dead weight for me.
When the librarian said these could go into the annual fundraiser book sale, I found lots more stuff for her! I donated numerous National Geographic volumes about various places around the U.S.
Remember when anything “National Geographic” was considered sacred?
I also gave her 20 years of autographed paperbacks–you know, the kind you buy at mass autographings and then never get around to reading? Yes, some are by writer friends…and some I looked at and said, “Who the heck was THAT?” The librarian’s putting those on the special table, so maybe the library will get some nice bucks from those.
And my TBR pile? Cleared out a whole corner of my office! Kept maybe a dozen. Several were freebies I hauled home from conventions, so the librarian was ecstatic about getting so many books that are pristine, and they’ll go into the collection rather than the sale.
What does this all mean? I’m thinking my local library will benefit a LOT more from these books than the paltry amount I’d have gotten at a garage sale. I’ll have a lot less to pack when we move: I’ve done my part for this downsizing project! And it’s been an interesting exercise in how priorities change, and how my relationship to my books and possessions has changed.
But it was also great to pick up Chris’s biography again, and smile at her perceptions of Aunt Charlotte the author. Priceless, that kid is. A real keeper!