I love books. The feel of them, the look of them, the smell of them. The feeling of comfort being surrounded by them, and the wealth of knowledge, emotion and amazing tales the house within their pages.
Mum loved books too. In fact, like me, she collected shelves and shelves of them. I need to be strong and keep clearing more space, ready to make this house my own, but what do you do about books? It’s so hard to part with them. Each time I glance at a box I see another title jump out and I’m tempted to pluck it out and add it to my never-ending pile of “must-reads”.
I can’t though. I can’t just keep hanging on to everything. I’m trying to be good. I’m trying to declutter. So that means that books will have to go. I can’t just box them up and let them go though. That library of books that mum built up over her lifetime, they echo her and her interests. I feel her close when I pick up the yellowing pages of the Colloquial Egyptian Arabic Dictionary, knowing she would have spent hours looking through and reciting their contents. The Catalogue of Antiquities of the Cairo Museum and a 1960 guide to Egypt. Those are all part of the life she lead. Working in Egypt for over a year – a pioneer of the ‘year out’ you might say – learning the language, exploring the museum and all its treasures.
Then there are the craft books – silver-smithing, jewellery making, patchwork, weaving, knitting, and of course shoe-making. She did all of these things. Her wonderful creativity reflected in the many boxes of wool, material samples, beads and more. I’m yet to sort through these all properly. I’m dying to find someone with a love of stitching or knitting, who might take on the challenge of making me something beutiful that I can enjoy, in return for the rest of the materials. The eight-volume set, bound in dark green, Boots and Shoes: Their Manufacture, Making and Selling, is a wonderful repository of historical shoe-making techniques.
There are book about artists, collections of poems, one even has a personal poem inscribed inside the front cover, by the poet, and author of the book, Adrian Henri. There are novels by Orwell, Camus, Golding and Kafka. Books about teaching, introducing maths, children with special educational needs. Books about gardening, travelling, West African folk tales and from female Egyptian novelists. It’s a real mixed collection. A real reflection of some of her loves, interests and life.
So what do I do with them? I’ve got a catalogue so I can go back and read what she read one day. I don’t need the physical books. But I was always taught to treasure things. We didn’t have much when I was growing up, so we treasured those things we did have. We looked after everything, kept it nice. Saved odd bits of string “because it might come in useful one day”, recycled what there really was no use for. We didn’t really get rid of things that weren’t still useful, and books are always useful. So what do I do?
I could just give them all to a charity shop, but I’m saving up to go on an exciting university course, that I’m sure mum would be excited by too, so maybe I should try to get some money for them? I thought about a second hand book seller, but I doubt I’d get very much, even selling so many. If I’m not going to get much, then I think I’d rather see them go to good homes, people who will enjoy them at least. People have suggested I try Amazon marketplace, but there are so many, and I just don’t quite have the time to list them all and the faff with posting them out. So what should I do?
It’s hard letting go of books. Might you have a good home for any of them? If you’d like to help me get to space university perhaps we could swap? A few pennies towerds my dream in exchange for an interesting book or two? Here’s a list of mum’s books and a few others from around the house. If you’d like any, please let me know.