Spring is here (even if the weather is wonky) and I get the urge to clean house. Maybe its because I read too many novels with industrious Victorian mothers who feel it necessary to strip the house of furnishings and give every room the once-over, maybe because my mother scolded a sense of order into me. But whatever the reason, every spring I find myself going through rooms with vacuum in one hand, dust cloth in the other and toting my family behind (who are never as enthusiastic as I am for some reason).
The hardest clean-up, however, is always the study. In particular, the shelves of books in the study. We have well over a thousand-book library with six shelves a yard long devoted to Shakespeare alone. Another seven of the same length are scripts of plays (we were both theatre majors in college and our daughter just graduated with the same degree. She's a stage manager and always looking for her next gig. If you happen to know of any openings., drop me a line!).
It isn't the dusting of them (that's easy), it's the cleaning out to make way for new. What do I give away? Notice I didn't say "toss away." I can't toss books into the recycling bin. On the very rare occasions when a paperback book has become just so disintegrated that its missing pages or that pages are torn, I agonize and apologize to the author when it goes into the blue bin.
But give away I do. Our local library stopped taking used books a couple of years ago so for quite some time the unwanted, but in good shape books collected in boxes in my attic. Then I found out the Salvation Army will take them. I've forgotten how many boxes I took them in that first drop, but it was a lot - and I've given them several more since.
The fact that they're going to a good home, however, doesn't make it any easier. I have to harden my heart and suck it up like a big girl every time a book leaves my hands. What is it about them that makes them so precious? It's not like I don't have enough (obviously we have too many). I grew up in a house that allowed me to keep all the books I bought, so there's no deep-rooted need to hoard in my childhood.
Perhaps it's because they are works of art. For they are, you know. Every one of them. Some are more to my liking than others, but in truth, each one is a creative endeavor on the part of an individual who put thought and time into the creation. One would not give away (or toss!) a Mondrian or Monet, so why would I get rid of a Nora Roberts or David Eddings?
But it's spring and cleaning-time is here. For now the Star Trek books are safe (two shelves worth, a yard across), as are the scripts and Shakespeare. But some of the others have to go.Let the agony begin!