04 October 2010

The worth of a book is to be measured by what you can carry away from it.- James Bryce

I'm really loving having my own apartment.  Interior decorating has afforded me a surge of creativity lately.  There's just that something about "making a house a home" that makes one feel so unique and industrious.

This weekend, I ambitiously tackled those frustrating wordless instructions with the pictures of screws and panels labeled A-Z, and arrows pointing to ...whatever that thing is. (Obviously, maniacal, ingenious engineers were cackling as they drew up these diagrams, imagining silly right-brainers like me trying to decipher them.)  After some head-scratching, and second-guessing (why do I have 3 B screws left over? Did I miss something? Is this thing going to collapse when I put something on it?), I finally put together my bookcase.

I meticulously lined the shelves with the stacks of books that had previously been housed in cardboard boxes across the apartment. As I gingerly placed each one, I often thumbed through the worn pages and scanned the back-cover summaries.

I know it's cheesy and pitiful and nerdy, but I got a bit emotional as I shelved my collection of biographies, novels, short stories, and writing guides. I have lots of clothes and shoes and jewelry, but if I ever went broke, I'd sell those before my books.

I realized that my books represent a lot about my journey, what I've learned, and how I've become me.

Many of them were assigned readings for school, and I recall all of those analyses and reports I painstakingly cranked out over my years as an English major.  There are several in this group for which I'm thankful I was forced to read, like Louise Erdrich's Tracks, which was assigned by three professors, and the message in which I did not really comprehend until that third reading, when I was more mature and a little wiser. ;)

Maya Angelou's poetics have sung me to sleep many a night with a glass of wine and dreams of the stories I might one day tell about my own life-- struggles included--because, really, that's what makes a woman.

Sloane Crosley's I Was Told There'd be Cake got picked from the shelf at Barnes and Noble simply because, well who can resist that title? Oh, but we became so much more, that book and I, like lovers who never saw it coming.

Heck, even that laughable break-up survival guide that was passed on to me by another bitter, jaded-girl-convincing-herself-of-her inner-diva during my freshman year of college has a special place in my heart.  At the very least, it provided me with some much-needed comic relief when I felt the world was ending upon losing the "first true love "of all my 19 years.

These are just a short few of the many books that have shaped me. What is more therapeutic than reading a book and realizing that somebody, somewhere, in some point in time felt, said, did, failed, accomplished, loved, hated, and adored the same way you do, have, and will?

As a writer, I hope one day someone will line her shelves with bound pages of my own creation.  :)

Happy reading, my friends.

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