Flirting with Downsizing

We decided we’d too many books and made a mountain. But what to lose?

I’ve a decent collection of poetry books that I visit regularly and use pieces of paper to bookmark poems. The shelves are a rainbow of prayer flags. Those books were going nowhere.

It was the same with collections – Steinbeck, Hemingway, Joyce, Becket, biographies with personal history. For example, I’m passionate about Hemingway. My youngest daughter and I spent three weeks visiting places in Cuba associated with him. The guide had a Cuban propaganda spin and we argued. He gave up and I became the guide. Can’t lose those books.

I took my daughters, when young, to California where Steinbeck based his novels: Salinas Valley, Gabilan Hills, the Big Sur. We visited Steinbeck’s Museum and got special treatment from the delightful curator, laughed heartily when we differed on aspects of Steinbeck’s work. My daughters cringed, still do in the telling to be honest. Those books were staying.

Getting rid of technical books was a joy and cathartic. I’m done with professional work. Out they went.

Which left novels. I usually pass them to family and friends. Yet, I still had double rows on the shelves. That was the big cleanout – several hundred books for Oxfam representing decades of reading. I felt as if I was in Timeless, the delightful poem by Instagram poet, Rupi Kaur.

wait till you see me in my thirties
now that will be a proper introduction
to the nasty, wild, woman in me,
how can i leave before the party’s started
rehearsals begin at forty
i ripen with age
i do not come with an expiration date
and now
for the main event
curtains up at fifty
let’s begin the show

She needs to catch up on me, two more decades.


First published in Swindon Link