Sunday, June 12, 2011

In Which I Wonder How Things Got This Bad in the First Place

The hubby and I are moving again. Not too far--just to a new apartment across town. And as with every move, we're standing back, hands on hips, staring at our possessions with a critical eye and thinking "Now, what can we throw out so we don't have to put it in a box?"

I suppose this purging is good for the soul. I don't need six pairs of black dress sandals and I never wore that swimsuit and I have always hated that sweater. But today that critical eye has turned toward the bookshelves. Our ever-growing pile of Donate-or-Sell includes the following:

  • Two copies of To Kill a Mockingbird. One has my ninth-grade scribbles all through, with every third paragraph underlined and highlighted. There's even an occasional post-it with words like "IRONY" and "FORESHADOWING." The other has a mangled cover. We're just keeping the nicer hardcover edition.
  • The Book of Vice, by Peter Sagal. I've got the same crush on Mr. Sagal that every girl has, and I liked the book, but I don't see myself cracking the cover to learn about the porn and gambling industries ever again. 
  • Time Enough for Drums, by Ann Rinaldi. Discovered I had two copies of this. Not sure where the second copy came from. Are the books breeding?
  • Two copies of The Little Prince. (I still have three, two in French and one in English.) The two on the donate pile appear to be encrusted in yogurt. 
  • Sense and Sensibility: The Barnes & Noble Cheap Paperback Edition.
  • L'Etranger. This was another duplicate book, but it has footnotes with English translations throughout. Evidently this is the "For Students Too Lazy to Pick up a Dictionary" edition. 
  • Stiff, by Mary Roach, because it was good and probably important but also pretty gross. 
  • My Life as an Experiment, by A.J. Jacobs. After The Know-it-All and The Year of Living Biblically I was pretty sure this guy had a screw loose, but My Life confirmed it. I don't deny the guy can write, but he's just a little too abnormal for me. 
  • The Romanovs, by Robert Massie. He's a great author but it's not his strongest book. He spends an extraordinary amount of time documenting the assassination. It's some of the most detailed gore I've ever seen in print. 
Happily, however, I have persuaded the hubby to leave my Bill Bryson and Agatha Christie collections intact. (There was only mild grumbling about Agatha Christie.) And he didn't grumble at all when I said I wanted to keep both copies of Jamaica Inn. See, here's my dilemma. The older copy is beat up but I love love love the elegant sleaze look to the cover, while the newer copy is in great shape but has a deeply embarrassing cover. Would you want to be seen in public with that thing?

No. Of course you wouldn't. That's the sort of cover you stash under your pillow and hope no one sees. 

I'm off to make a gut-wrenching decision on Into Thin Air. I loved it in tenth grade but haven't cracked the cover since. It's sort of pleasing to have it on the shelf, but probably not pleasing enough to justify boxing it up and lugging it across town. Wish me luck.