Did I say "accumulating"? Perhaps "amassing" would be a better word. I gathered copies of books around me like Fahrenheit 451 may actually come to pass and the only thing standing between me and a life without Pride and Prejudice would be the six copies I had stashed in the living room cupboard. There wasn't a library sale I missed from the Twin Cities to Duluth. I have two large bookshelves in my living room full up of books--Did I just hear you say you wanted to read Tess of the D'Urbervilles? You can borrow my copy!-- plus half a cupboard and please don't even ask to see my bedroom! I loved to read and spent many hours with a variety of authors.
And then I had babies.
It's amazing how children will change your life. I never imagined myself as a non-reader, which functionally so many people are, and I'm not. It's just that the amount and subject of my materials has changed so dramatically. I don't have the time or patience for the classics anymore. I don't enjoy them in the same way and I'm starting to question whether or not I ever did. Boswell's Life of Johnson? Really? I read it, but I don't remember enjoying it. I am certainly not going to read it again. Charles Dickens? There are people who read through his books like wildfire, but I have never been one of them. I've never met a man so intent on beating his audience over the head with a Moral Lesson and until I learn to enjoy a good thrashing I am sure I won't like him, either.
So, today has been something of a culmination of what has been happening to me in the four and a half years since I had my first baby. Peter and I went through our entire house and collected seven dusty boxes of books to take over to the Library. I am still Keeper of Volumes--you can tell because he didn't have to rent a small truck to get my collection out of the house--but the number has been dramatically reduced. And you know what? It feels good! I had three or four old dictionaries, one of which belonged to my grandpa. I kept his and sent off the three that didn't. I said good-bye to Dickens, to DeFoe, to Plato and Locke. I was able to acknowledge that I still wanted to read A Letter Concerning Toleration VERY much, but that perhaps this isn't the year. When it is, I will buy it new. I'll enjoy it more than the 1958 edition I had, anyway. It feels so good to let go of who I was and turn to accept the person I am today. I am looking forward to seeing what I will be reading when the kids are a little older.
So, in the meantime, you'll find me chasing the kids and reading books when I can. But they won't likely be about systems of government or the ways of human error. Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters can stay--even Anne-- but today's reading is more likely to be about knitting, cooking, and suspicious looking deaths.