So, I’ve been going through my books. It’s slow going because I’m really a pack rat when it comes to books.
In a way, though. they are a diary of what I was, what I thought I’d be, and what I’ve become.
There are the historical romances…I started with Jude Deveraux’s Velvet Angel, which I’d found in a bag of books that were being passed around and started reading because it was in medieval times. That was the summer when I’d turned thirteen…that summer I went to the local used book store and bought every one of her books I could, expanded out, reading Joanna Lindsey (Oh, those horrid Fabio covers! I can’t look at them without thinking about fake butter.) and Katherine Sutcliffe and Laura Kinsale. At a flea market I did some lady a kindness and she told me to pick out any book I wanted, and that’s how I got into Julie Garwood. I’d do my chores, take my lawn chair out, and read until dinner. Then I’d go to my room and read more. I was devouring a book a day, sometimes getting a good start on the next. Even though, later, I’d read and review romances for Affair de Cour (the only print book reviewing gig I could get) I just…didn’t have the joy of it, most of the time. So I got rid of a bunch of those…I kept the favorites, I mean, I don’t think I’ll ever read any of them again, even Jude’s A Knight in Shining Armor, but they were a major part of…something, and I just want to keep them a little while longer.
Then, there are the novels I felt that a woman who was going to go on to get her MLS and Masters in English and finally get her PhD (I wanted to get my doctorate in Arthurian Literature) needed to own. Books I’d read for class, things I’d picked up at book sales. I sorted those today, too. I don’t keep books for cool value, (I became very disillusioned with that idea when I realized that people didn’t think that the fact I have a whole bunch of Nataniel Hawthorne books is cool. Apparently, I’m the only person in the world who actually *likes* Nathaniel Hawthorne. I blame it on people being tortured by the symbolism in The Scarlet Letter — which, I think, is a lovely book, but really, let’s not keep people from reading The House of Seven Gables or The Marble Fawn because of it, shall we? I felt particularly pleased to get rid of Evelyn Waugh’s The Loved One. I’d never had a worse time finishing a book in my life. I also own several copies of Shakespeare’s plays…I think I kept them because they were paperbacks, and because I have Shakespeare’s plays all in this really old, beautiful, hard cover set. I looked myself in the mental eye, tole myself it was either get rid of the paperbacks or get rid of the hardbacks, and put all the paperbacks (save for “Much Ado About Nothing”, which is my favorite comedy and, being the movie tie in has pretty pictures in the middle) in the Goodwill box.
I also found my Graham Greene books…I was reading the back of them and wondering if any of them are half as good as This Gun for Hire…they all come off sounding a bit boring and even a little soapy. Any suggestions?
I am sort of on the fence over M.M. Kaye. When I was little I read The Ordinary Princess, one of my favorite stories of all time. I’ve not read it since my teens because I’m afraid that it won’t be as magical now as it was back then. So, every library sale I went to that had them, I bought whatever M.M. Kaye book I found that was fairly cheap. I know she made her name through The Far Pavilions which I have but have never read, but she also wrote a bunch of murder mysteries. I read Death in Cyprus the other night, and while I did stay up late to find out if I was right about who I thought the murderer was (she gave it away by one small line of dialogue near the end of the book, it was very much an aha! moment) but I found that the tone bothered me. There’s a certain era of story where the woman is a blithering idiot and the guy is a hard keep your chin up don’t you dare start crying after you almost fell to your death but were saved by your long hair catching in a pine tree (not joking) or go into hysterics because someone is obviously trying to kill you. type of bloke. Very forceful and controlling and “You’re a little dumb, since you’re a woman, so let me take care of all these plot points off the page so that you’re safe and you won’t ruin my plans.” And I’m sort of like, “Bleah” about it…I know it’s the era, and I certainly don’t mind powerful, proactive, protective male protagonists, but I want my women to be powerful in their own way (without going to the other extreme where they are completely bitch cakes and yell at the guy all the time.) So, I have this big pike of M.M. Kaye books that I’m not sure if I’m going to ever read now. I did love her descriptions of Cyprus…I now sort of would like to visit the place…but eh.
I’m also going over books I was given to review. Technically it’s considered bad form to do anything but keep them, but I suspect donating them to a good charity is not a bad thing. And sometimes they’d send me the hardcovers, then the paperbacks of every title. And some of these books I liked…but not that much. Or just never read because I knew I wouldn’t like it.
But it’s also been…a walk down a happy road, really. I’ve become re-introduced to old friends, I’ve found books that I forgot I’d had, books I’ve not yet gotten to read. Sometimes books remind me of a period of my life, or a story of what was going on when I got it, sometimes they remind me of story ideas that I was working on because I’d bought it for research, sometimes they just make me happy, anticipating what’s inside of them. I think that may be why I kept so many of the romances…they were good dreams.
I did, however, finally find my copy of the Eyre Affair…yes! So I can finally read the whole Jasper Fford series, front to back.
But first, more sorting of books.I don’t understand it, but somehow I managed to make more shelf space yet have less room for books. The logic of this is failing me.