My Books, My Sirens

When I was younger, I tried to close the gap between desire and reality by planning to work hard, work harder, make lots of money.  I figured the only other option was to want things less and that didn’t seem feasible.  It turns out, I found the first method difficult and generally unsustainable, given the age discrimination most of us will face at some point – meaning, our earnings and earning potential could not incline upward for our entire working lives.

The decrease in wanting things was less tricky than I’d expected.  After a while, when you’re no longer in the habit of shopping for entertainment or expecting new stuff to tirelessly parade into your home, you have trouble remembering why you felt these twinges and pulls at all. Of many things, anyway. I’m no minimalist, for sure, but I suspect even minimalists are susceptible to the Siren song of some particular thing.  I can assess so many things with a practical eye and not buy.  Sometimes all I need is to walk around a store with the item and this cures me – turns out I just needed to spend a little time with that thermos or scarf, not to carry it home, and I put it back.

Books are my Sirens.  My practical side knows that the library has a treasure trove of books I can read for free and won’t get thru in three lifetimes.  Yet I still want stacks and stacks of my own at home. Partly b/c I won’t risk taking a library book into the tub with me.  Or on a trip, after leaving one at Logan airport (though, to my astonishment, a kind soul had found it and mailed it to the library, saved me from the cost of a replacement hardback.)  And don’t get me started on the yuckiness of what I find crusted on the pages of more popular YA novels.  But those lame excuses could suffice if I had just a few used books at home.  Instead, I have what may in some states constitute a small library branch.  Our local library just had its book sale.  Divine.  Each year I stack books for the coming winter like others stack cords of wood.

I so love it when someone’s visiting and asks if perhaps I have any good books I could lend them; I must stifle a laugh as we climb the stairs to my unwieldy stacks.