Every six months (okay—every year) when I cleaned them, I would try to weed out books. But this time when I unloaded the bookcases, I had visions of my sister and me emptying the contents of my parents’ house after my mother died and my father went into nursing care. I saw my kids emptying these bookcases in years to come and decided to do them a favor.
I found the books that I threw out represented myself—stages of myself, personality traits, personas—that I once manifested. Hermann Hesse represented my metaphysical high school self portraying the budding scholar. Steppenwolf, Siddhartha, Narcissus and Goldman, I’d never read them again. The college textbooks represented the intimidated young adult out on her own for the first time. I clung to them for guidance. Lillian Jackson Braun, Janet Evanovich and Diane Mott Davidson represented the new mother who needed good diversions. There were other authors I tried once, whose books I barely remembered reading, representing the discriminating older adult who realized she had limited time on this planet.
I paused before I threw out the volumes. They spoke of a me that I was willing to let go, but whom my children didn’t know. Those books were part of my personal history. But then, I realized that the books would mean nothing to them unless they read them and understood what they represented in the context of the time and my life. My final analysis was that knowing what I read wouldn’t surprise them in the least. Besides, they’ll have my Kindle library and have to shut down that account—unless they read the books first. Doubtful. I let them go with reluctance. Perhaps those books were only important to me, and now I’ve closed those chapters.