My Tiny Library: Irreplaceable Treasure.
My library is a little smaller but no less loved by me.
When I see all my books, I realise what they mean to me.
My fading memory has one big advantage!
I have just rearranged my small library again to accommodate the acquisition of a small, erstwhile flat-packed book shelf. I had passed it guiltily for the last couple of months as it was holding up my project of adding some chosen fiction paperback books I had hidden in a closet to the lounge library. They would be joining my beloved nucleus of non-fiction: about 200 books I had collected lovingly over the last 20 or so years, and have carted around several continents with me. As assembling flat-packed furniture is up there along with having a root canal or putting up with mothers-in-law, I had avoided the task as long as possible hoping to find some sucker to do it for me for a bagatelle.
Anyway, today I became impatient and put it together and only got the two side panels wrong so now the rough, uncovered surfaces of the pressed board, or whatever this rubbish is called, are to the front. It was chuck it or use it as is; the nails were in and I hadn’t the energy to take it to pieces again.
I don’t - or haven’t till now - displayed paperback books, except for a few irreplaceable texts, etc. I have generally taken them back to the charity shops the bulk of them came from in the first place - that or Tesco’s “two-for-one,” or eBay. But I am a bit cheesed off with charity shops since I found out the directors of the larger chains are making nearly as much as bankers and minor footballers and they have decided in many cases to sell donated items for more that the equivalent can be found for new! All wrong, I say. I also nodded to self when I pondered that my memory is getting so bad these days, I will be able to read them all again in time! I always read the best two or three times anyway. And my favorite crime/ detective/legal thriller writers don’t put out enough to keep up. Three reliable standout authors were Grisham, Kellerman and De Mille, but they have all made so much money they are not hungry enough to do much more; don’t blame them; writing is a hard, hard discipline; much more fun to sail the Morgan Out Island around with some sexy chick. (Yes, chick, I never read books by female authors either…if you know what I mean you don’t have to ask).
James Lee Burke and his New Iberian plod protagonist Dave Robicheaux, my top man, along with Lee Childs and superhero, Jack Reaper, not forgetting Robert Crais, featuring PI Elvis Cole and sidekick, the deadly Joe Pike: these are the three authors still churning them out who are top of my list of greats. They are all American writers writing about the US; British crime writing is rubbish as far as I am concerned.
Already in the large bookshelf are the complete works of Bill Bryson and Paul Theroux. Travel books are my second love and first of the non-fiction genre. I can read Bryson’s “Walk in the Woods” once a month forever! He has just the brand of agonizing humor that gets me every time. I think all Theroux’ books are masterpieces - and I wish the twit who borrowed my copy of “Dark Star Safari” would return it. I really hate people who borrow books and don’t return them. Especially when I can’t recall who they were.
I have a huge and glorious collection of books about Mexico. I worked as a columnist there for nearly 20 years and they are all well thumbed and used as a reference for thousands of articles. Who will want them when I go to the happy hunting grounds I hope is somewhere in Baja? No one. They will end in some skip; sad, but when a life is done all the much loved and deeply personal stuff means little to those who survive unless they can flog it.
I do have one section of my tiny library where rest a few treasured books someone else might like. These are my books on nature and the classics: poetry; Hemingway’s novels. And my own three modest contributions to literary posterity: two books on Mexico and my anthology of verse. But perhaps not. I have made no money from them because the evil Rosalind Franklin and her loathsome business, Diggory Press, kept all the royalties and the Hertfordshire OR now owns the intellectual rights (or thinks he does Ha!).
But as I gaze at this small oasis of color and think of all the pleasure I have obtained from these books and then compare it to the electronic world open to me on line, I realize computers will never replace the owning of a book: the feel of it; turning the pages back and forth to read and check a previous piece of text. The ability to have the whole publication ready to hand and the fact that I only have to pay once, unlike going online which costs a substantial monthly fee and hundreds in equipment. It’s actually a great time for us bookworms as there are so many once loved works around in the charity shops and boot sales. I won’t bother, though, I’ll just pull out the old ones and read them again!