I’m in Week Four of our move, the highlight of which is putting books on shelves. It’s a good day to be Diane when you get to spend all Friday and most of Saturday putting away books. Don’t laugh. It could be worse. I could be putting away tools in the garage or trying to find a cupboard for the dog medication.
We have no built-in bookshelves in this house, so we had to stuff the shelves we already had and then had to go out and buy two large entertainment centers. They’re only entertainment centers if you’re entertained by reading, because that’s the majority of their contents.
Even then, we still have a few piles of books without homes. I’m thinking of Velcroing them together into a small nightstand. We could use the surface space to hold more books.
I actually love putting away books, because we have some really good novels. Our non-fiction stinks, but the fiction is awesome. This is partly due to a mission I began about two years ago to buy as many paperback classic fiction books as I could, so that when the kids came running into the kitchen at 8 p.m. on a Sunday night, yelling, “I have to read The Iliad orThe Odyssey or a John Grisham book that’s at least 250 pages long by tomorrow!” I’ll be prepared. (That scenario is not uncommon. English teachers and summer reading professionals have a weird sense of what’s literature. Either that or they drink whole bottles of vodka when they’re doing their lesson plans. Preferably, I can whip out The Iliad in lieu of The Firm.)
So I started buying classics and had interesting and smart-looking covers, and I stopped loaning out and giving away books. Other people are much nicer than me. They loan me books and when I attempt to return them, they say, “Oh, that’s OK, you can keep it. I’m just glad that someone’s reading it. When you’re done, just give it to someone else.”
I don’t. I keep it. I don’t return it to its owner and I don’t even loan it to someone else. I used to loan books out to friends and some of them never got returned, so I turned into Greedy McStingy when it comes to books. Years and years ago, an old friend of mine from Warren, Ohio, sent me a cardboard box full of some of his favorite books. I still marvel at the niceness of that. They became my favorite books, too, and I was so full of good will that I loaned out my favoritest of allThe War of the End of the World and never got it back. If you’re my friend and you borrowed that book, you better realize that someday I’m gonna remember who it was who borrowed it and your butt is toast. Your punishment will be that you have to take my copy of German Industry and Global Enterprise: BASF The History of a Company by Werner Abelshauser and Wolfgang von Hippel off my non-fiction shelf.