Before I get into My Big Day, let me drop a note here about myself. I hate housework. I do it. I’m a mom, and a wife, and an adult, which all means that I can’t avoid housework. (Hey, I’m a feminist, I’m not saying that wives have to do the housework. My hubby and I split the work. I’m just saying, being married means that you’re counted on to do at least your fair share, right?) It’s inevitable. I just hate it even while I’m doing it.
What I do love, that some might find tedious, is organizing bookshelves! When I’m feeling Zen, I tear my own apart, analyze my need to keep them, then reorganize them and take pictures. I’m sure many of you bookworms out there are the same way, but in my real world I stand alone in my quirk. That means that when my family or friends need books reshelved they call me.
Today, on My Big Day, I went shelfing at Grandma’s house! Or Granny as my daughter calls her.
I thought about including a before picture, but you wouldn’t have been able to see the disarray. The World War II books were mixed with Fiction. Depression Era books were mixed among Mysteries. WWI books among her massive amount of Holiday cookbooks/novellas/anecdote books. Oddly enough my mother, who initially helped her load the shelf, managed to get all the knitting books together. It’s actually not odd at all. It’s just like my mother! She’s not a bookworm, she’s a knitter/sewer (one who sews).
Anyway, as we sat together and sorted them it was nice to hear all her stories about how she got each one, or why it held a special meaning for her. Some of them had little newspaper clippings taped or stuck inside them, and a lot of them had handwritten notes inside the front flap from family members who we’ve lost. Most of them were older books, and I couldn’t resist snapping a couple pictures of some of the vintage covers.
While I’m a stickler for sizing, Grandma was more interested in making sure all her subjects were together so there was a lot of organizing, but eventually it was just how she likes it on her shelf. The whole thing took us a couple hours, and after we went out to lunch. (We share a love of Pad Thai and wine. Grandma with wine, me with water.)
I love spending time with my Grandma, and I think we had a lot of fun. Now I can’t help but wonder if someday my grandchildren will be sitting around my bookshelf, helping me, and looking at all my novels. Do I have an interesting history with any of my books, outside of just how much I love them. I don’t actually have many books that were given to me as a gift, and I don’t think I have any with clippings or handwritten notes inside them. (Not true, I have one. From my Grandma.)
Is it possible that even though we all love our books, have we lost the intimacy of sharing a copy of beloved books with our family and friends? It makes me want to rush out and buy books for people. It makes me want to gift someone a book with a cherished message inside, because sitting with my Grandma today made me realize that it’s a really wonderful way to hold onto those we love even after they’re gone.
Do any of you have special books? Have you gifted a book to a loved one? Did you inherit your love of books from someone? And if so, have you ever sat and talked with them about their literary memories?