Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Library Book Project

For those of you who weren't helping me haul boxes on Sunday (thanks Eeon, Mike and Tim!), I moved (again) to a little two-bedroom rental house on a private road with a yard that you could film an episode of Justified on.  And for those of you who haven't known me very long, I have a rich and sordid history of moving.  Since I was eighteen, I have packed and unpacked sixteen times, making this most recent move my seventeenth.  On average, I stay in a place for about nine months, the longest stay being three years on Chestnut Street . . . and in all likelyhood, we'll be packing up and moving out of this place in the spring, with the intentions of buying a house.

Each time I've moved, I've gotten rid of more stuff.  This time, I got rid of a ton of clothes and books.  All my lit mags were handed off to Mike, a hefty chunk of pulp novels went to Amber in exchange for bagfuls of awesome sweaters and dresses (and sweater-dresses, including a blue-green hooded one I've craved ever since I first saw her wear it at the Green Earth).  Records and DVDs went to both the Oneonta Teen Center (including the first entry in "Teenage Wasteland," Empire Records) and The Vault in exchange for a few bucks.  Clothes that weren't traded went to the consignment shop, and clothes that they wouldn't take went to Salvation Army.  Some books went to a used book store, others were given away . . . and those that I couldn't bear to part with were packed up and stored.

I've decided that, for the length of time that I'm here, I'm going to rely on the library and books handed off to me by friends.  I realized that I rarely read a book twice (with the exception of The Long Goodbye, which I read yearly) and that having a ton of books on hand did little but take up space.  I realized that simply having The Handmaiden's Tale on my bookshelf did not mean that I was ever going to read it.

Also, I recently discovered the pleasures of going to the library.  Unlike bookstores, which seem very very daunting to me, a library has a sense of quiet order to it.  There's the sense that, because you're reading on borrowed time, that the reading takes priority.  If I take out The Handmaiden's Tale, I'd better read it in 14 days or cough up a quarter for each day I delay.  The best part is that the library is free, and there's no clutter or anything to pack up at the end.  If I don't like a book, I can take it back, no questions asked.

This isn't to say I don't support the Green Toad, my local bookstore.  I love small bookstores much more than any big-box mega-store on the planet.  And this doesn't mean I'll be getting an e-reader anytime soon either.  I like the feel of a book in my hand, and I like to give books as gifts. 

But I consider this an opportunity and a challenge--if this was a stunt blog, I'd make careful notes about my library experience as a way of preserving libraries or other such silliness.  Heaven knows I'm not so great about keeping up with the blog and the last thing I need is another column to write.  If anything, this new undertaking is a way of clearing out the clutter of my life and of getting back out in the community.  Ordering a book for a penny on Amazon doesn't force me to interact with anyone (not even the mailman, because our mailbox is located at the absolute top of our driveway).  Having to go to the library will force me to engage with others. . . and I don't think that will be a bad thing.

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