Most authors have a love affair with books and I am no exception. In the past, I managed to contain my stash under my bed. With the advent of the kindle, my stash became mostly virtual, but I still buy paperbacks of books I love. Let’s put it this way: if I became a sudden shut-in, no problem! I have enough books to last me until I die and beyond.
It doesn’t help that the Romance Writers of America offers all the attendees to its national conference every year FREE books, signed by the authors themselves. (And just try giving away a book that an author you enjoy has signed to you. See the problem?)
Books are a writer’s lifeblood. They feed our creative souls, they take us out of the miseries we may be having with our own books (and with life) and transport us to our Happy Place. Problem is, when you’re busy writing books, you don’t have very much time for reading. So the books accumulate…and don’t get read. This is compounded by the fact that many of your friends are writers and you want to read their books, too!
Since the kids have gone, I’ve vowed to declutter my house, which looks lovely on first glance but if you open any closet, drawer, (or God forbid the attic door), you’ll see the ugly truth, that I am a closet clutterer. But I’ve vowed to reform my ways.
Marie Kondo, from Japan, hit it big with her 2014 book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and has a new book out called Spark Joy, about her methods for doing so. She has a novel outlook toward throwing stuff away (or giving it away). If it doesn’t “spark joy,” it should go. How can you tell if it sparks joy? You hug it, and if you don’t get the vibe, you pitch.
I’ve been doing this over past few months with my closet, my drawers, and yes, that proud bastion to the fake floral department of Home Goods, my attic. But the books…my precious darlings…how will I do it? All those books I poured over with my children, from Goodnight Moon to Harry Potter…yep. They’re in there too.
My local RWA chapter has a massive book basket giveaway each year, and that is my big source of parting with my darlings. And friends and family who love to read. But I still keep a sizable stash of “but I know I’ll get to that this year” and “I always wanted to read that.” This is compounded by the seven books I’m required to read before March 7 in the RWA Rita contest, where romance authors judge their peers to vote for the years most excellent romance novels.
I suppose the excitement of reading a book is buried somewhere deep in my genetic code. My mother was voracious reader, and from a young age I was indoctrinated into the Books are your Friends school. Books calm me, teach me, and entertain me, and even when I am bleary after a long day at the computer, I (usually) take at least fifteen or twenty minutes before bed to wind down…you guessed it…by reading.
So in a way it’s pretty wonderful to always be surrounded by more and more wonderful books that come out regularly and push back in the queue those books that I just haven’t gotten to yet.
Thank you, books, for giving me joy. But now some of you have got to go out into the world and bring that joy to others. I better go start hugging.