Because I have a big book wang, but I'm downsizing, and it feels… weird.
I still remember packing for college, realizing that whatever books I took from my home library would define me for possible friends and significant others. Every dorm room I entered, that was the first thing I did: hunt for a bookshelf and silently judge. No bookshelf? No nookie.
Because I was a raging jackass of a book snob.
As I moved to larger apartments and eventually houses, my book collection grew. I still curated it carefully--the things I loved and would read over and over again balanced with the things that would make me look cool: poetry, that book by Henry Kissinger I read in 11th grade AP, the gigantic 1958 dictionary that was my best friend for a few years, my Alice collection.
And then I moved to my first real house. A few years later, I sold my first book series, and the advance check went straight to the handyman who built my wall-to-wall bookshelves.
Just look at them. So sexy.
Except… kinda empty.
Because I'm moving
To a smaller house that doesn't have built-in bookshelves. And now, everything I see or touch makes me think, "Do I love this enough to move it?" I've already taken four bags of books to my favorite used bookstore (shout out to Once and Again Books in Marietta!), not to mention given away some spicy new ones at my last book launch party. I sent my mom home with ten pounds of Cassandra Clare. In short, I started finding a new home for every single book I could part with.
And damn, but it hurt. This entire bookshelf, all 24 spaces, was full just last week.
Although I'm glad to spread the book love, it feels really, really weird to have empty shelves. My book wang is no longer as mighty.
And yet… who the hell do I need to impress? Happily married for twelve years and bordering on eccentrically reclusive, I don't think more than 10 people have been in this room in the past 7 years. Anyone who knows me and likes me now pretty much met me online without ever having seen my bookshelves. Maybe we talked books or publishing, maybe they've read my books, or maybe we like the same authors, but my book wang is now digital and mental.
In today's world, I wonder what it's like going into a prospective date's dorm room for the first time. If you keep all your books on your e-reader, do you set it up to flash the covers? Do you find a reason to open it up and say, "Sorry, it's taking me a while to scroll through ALL OF THESE FANTASTIC BOOKS"? Or do you just… talk? You freaky extroverts, with your talking.
I'm trying to get over this mental hump that MANY BOOKS = WORTH, and it really drives the point home that being human is a challenging and ever-evolving experience. I know that my books don't define me as a human being, and yet each one means something.
But I think I've figured out how to do it. If I pick up a book and can't remember when I read it, it can go. If, on the other hand, it's signed to me, or I pick up something like my beat-up, old Outlander...
Then I know it has to stay. From here on out, I'm only keeping things with meaning.
I've learned how to let go of a lot of things in life, baggage among them. Stuff doesn't mean as much as it used to.
And you know what? I feel lighter already.
What is it they say about book wang? It's not the perfection of the collection; it's the blows of the prose?