Sunday, July 10, 2005

Books: Enduring Relationships

I have spent most of my spare time lately transferring my 1000+ children's books to my little one's room. She has so many bookshelves that it only seems right; besides, she can't actually reach them.

These books sat in boxes in the basement, untouched, for the past year. There was always something so wrong about this, about the fact that they could not be enjoyed.

For years, all of my books were transported from one temporary home to another and I don't know why I insisted on this being so. They could easily have stayed at my parents' home until I finished university; however, I didn't feel secure without them.

Now, as I pack up other titles to make room for the children's books, I feel as if these treasures have finally found a home. All of them, from my collection of Little Golden Books and the hardcover, vintage Hardy Boys to picture books, collections of nursery rhymes and the rare, aged UK Puffin titles, are settling in.

There are also the antique children's books (on the same shelves that will also house a 19th century porcelain children's tea service) and these, too, will be out of reach of little hands for quite some time.

In time, those being packed away (until renovations are completed) will find their way to a permanent home. In time, my husband's office will have that wonderful, old-book smell when he first walks in. In time, this family will have private spaces and places defined in part by individual relationships to books and it will feel good.

The vastness of our collections and the diversity of genres, topics and interests startles people who visit.

I'm not very discriminating. I collect books that interest me and care little--if anything at all--for the monetary value or collectibility status: I own rare first editions, but I'm not averse to buying ex-library or book club findings.

How much a book could fetch at auction does not impress me.

The value of a book has to be subjective: what it contains, what it could contain and what an owner/prospective owner thinks it contains as well as associations ephemeral or archetypal and just so much more...

This lazy Sunday, again spent filling a little girl's many shelves, reminds me of the value of this relationship in my life.

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