Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Monday, November 19, 2007

Books to the Sky

Books to the Ceiling, by Arnold Lobel

Books to the ceiling,
Books to the sky,
My pile of books is a mile high.
How I love them! How I need them!
I'll have a long beard by the time I read them.

A few months ago I joined my Spouse who had already moved into this apartment. I had been apart from Spouse and, as well, from our possessions, for more than one year. At long last, I could begin to unpack box after box of books which we had placed into storage while still residing in Texas. We found treasures I had nearly forgotten about and more I had longed for. We had no assembled bookshelves at the time of unpacking so I stacked the books four piles deep, and roughly fifteen books high, in our bedroom. Finally it looked like a library, albeit a somewhat inaccessible one. I think that our entire collection filled twenty or so boxes, and we emptied each and every one with loving care, as one would greet a dear friend.
Some weeks later and on a whim, I decided I wanted to root out a particular book I knew we had. It would be an enormous task given the vast space devoted to books but I felt sure I could locate the exact book in a short time.
I proceeded to search, but alas, not terribly carefully at first. Thus, after an exhausting but haphazard search, I did not know which of the forty or so stacks I had already combed through and thereby found myself repeatedly perusing the same piles, in vain.
I am sure now that I spent at least four hours on my poor knees looking through the veritable haystack of poetry, science fiction, novels, essays and mathematics books.
I was bewildered. I knew, I was certain, that I had the book and so it must be somewhere. I pulled the entire 'shelf' apart; I undid every stitch of my careful library-formation.
I grew impatient. I found endlessly inventive ways to rapidly examine all books in a short span: still nothing emerged, but I told myself I had just missed the book, somehow. Is it not always the case that the very thing you are looking for will be tucked away the most secretively of all?
As it turns out, I had not tucked it away.
Instead, four days later I recollected, rather belatedly, that I had in fact given it to a college friend in Texas just days before we moved.
I was exceptionally furious with myself for wasting so much valuable time. I see now that I ought to have known what books we still had in our collection.
Since that time we have revolutionised our lives and eliminated, among other things, at least 150 books we were positive we would never read again. They were given away to good homes, and we made a note of the occasion should doubts ever arise again about the whereabouts of such items. I cannot stress the value of knowing what is in your home, and where it is located.
The book I wore my knees out for; the book I tore my room apart to find; the book I vowed to dig up no matter what it cost:
'The Idiot' by Dostoevsky.

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