I own a decent sized library, it probably wouldn’t hold a candle to Walter Benjamin’s collection, but it is nonetheless a decent sized assortment of literary knowledge for an in debt college student to have acquired. My books aren’t just an indicator of my personality; they are a fundamental aspect of what makes me the person that I am. I don’t just like to read, I like to be seen reading. Don’t take that statement the wrong way, I don’t read for purely superficial value, but at the same time I like for people to know that I read books and that this fact is a part of what makes Joe Saputo the loveable guy that he is.
My relationship with my books isn’t one sided. I know my library inside and out, I love the stories that I own and over the years have gained a great deal of respect for the level of skill required to craft a truly gripping piece of literature and I try my hardest to make sure that I fully understand the meaning behind every single line penned down by the authors that I have come to have such a level of respect for.
Maybe this level of connectivity to my possessions is why getting me to give away a book is like pulling teeth. In fact, I probably haven’t given away more than three books since the time I was in middle school. I came to this realization some-time around last year. My little brother’s school was having a donation based book fair, and being the residential book worm all eyes in the house were on me when it came time to put some books in the donation bin. Looking through my collection, I came to the realization that there were some books I owned that I haven’t read for years and probably will never read again. Artemis Fowl, Gregor the Overlander, A Series of Unfortunate Events, I loved these books when I was a teenager, but hadn’t touched them since maybe Freshman year in high school and that would have only been because I was feeling nostalgic. Yet when it came time to place books in the donation bin, these forgotten stories remained firmly on my shelf.
This is something of an issue when a collector outgrows aspects of his collection. All those stories I mentioned before are wonderful for their intended audience, but I’m no longer a part of it. My literary tastes have evolved over the years and in all honesty it probably would be a much more mature decision to pass on these aspects of my collection that I’ve outgrown so that a younger audience can enjoy it, but I just can’t. Those are my books. Every wrinkle and tear on them comes from me and the thought of giving up possession of them to some nameless faceless individual terrorizes me.
Perhaps the anonymity of a future owner is what really holds me back from giving up these parts of my collection. The few times I have given away books, it’s always been to someone who I knew personally. I would get more enjoyment reading Cormac McCarthy’s TheRoad than Gregor the Overlander, but I had no problem giving the former away to my equally book inclined neighbor. I have no issue parting with pieces of my collection so long as I know that they will be taken up by a new owner who will have the same level of care for them that I do.