I lead a dull and aimless life. I have nothing but time and a few obligations. Frankly I find those few obligations quite onerous, they do beat one down. Lest you think this is going to turn into a whine, be of good cheer, it isn’t.
What have I been doing lately? A lot of reading. I tried to count up how many books I’ve read so far this year and it looks to be about 80. Have they been great literature? No, not by a long shot. Mostly mysteries/murder/detective type books. Mostly series – I’d read a series straight through – some were only 3 books, some 6, one that I am plowing through now is currently at 63 but I’ve already read the last 25 or so as they came out so I’m just catching up on the first in the series dating back to 1995.
Yes, I’ve read a few novels, but I’m really not much into novels except for Elizabeth Strout of course. I’ve reread 2 of hers this year and I’m waiting for her latest to hit the library – I’ll probably be late to that party and wind up 83rd on the waiting list. Yes, I could just buy the book as I’ve bought all her previous ones but it just seems foolish to buy books – especially at this time of my life. Just more stuff to take up space on the shelf. The odd thing about my buying of books these last few years is that I get the book from the library and then buy a copy after I’ve read it. Seems silly.
I periodically clear out the book shelves – what is the point to keeping books I shall never look at again? I’ve got the Harry Potter books in hardcover – I pre-ordered every one of them (oh does anyone remember the excitement and anticipation when the next volume was due to be published?) They take up half a shelf and I look at them and think “Why are they still here? I know I shall never read them again.
I’ve got a Dell paperback (price 35¢), 4th Dell printing, 1958, of “Bonjour Tristesse” by Francoise Sagan.
The pages are brown with age, and crispy. And the book kinda smells funny. I don’t recall when I bought the book. I was only 12 in 1958 and while I was precocious as all hell when it came to reading material, I can’t think I bought this book then – perhaps a few years later? – I can see myself at 15 buying and reading this book. Which means this little book is 60 years old. I’ve been carting this book around for 60 years! (How many times have I moved in 60 years? Rough count? 19 and that doesn’t include temporary housing where I didn’t have my stuff).
Have I reread this book at any time in the last 60 years? No, not within memory, tho for all I can remember I might have reread it when I was young.
And my question is: Why have I never dumped this book? Why, when I started writing this, was this the first book I went looking for on the shelf? I don’t remember what it is about. Every time I winnow books this one stays. And stays.
Perhaps it’s time I re-read it. But I can’t. This copy would not survive the handling and I just checked and my local library does not have an ebook copy.
Shall this book live forever on my shelf? Unread. Or rather, un-reread. Shall I ever know what has made me keep it all this years?