Sunday, September 16, 2012

Oh, I Get It!

"Your library is your portrait"     ~ Holbrook Jackson
I came across this quote while searching for a quote to stimulate a journal entry and, intrigued by the idea, decided to examine my library for what it might say about me.  Like a portrait or photograph.  What would it convey to a stranger looking at it for the first time?  Who would he/she think I am simply by checking out my books? (Is this why I check out other people's libraries - to get a better sense of who they are?)
Interesting exercise!  Obvious, I think, that I learn by reading.  Not everyone learns this way, I understand.  But I have books everywhere.  On shelves, in baskets, on table tops and piles on the floor.  And at least half are non-fiction, even on my Kindle.
I love to have choice, options, plenty of resources, multiple resources. No wonder it's been so challenging to cull my library, why I'm still at it after a couple years of schlepping shopping bags full of books to the local library.
My history is as evident in my books as in the wrinkles on my face.  Books from my teaching, training and coaching days; one shelf devoted to the non-fiction that has made the biggest impact on my thinking.  Topics I've studied vigorously.  Others long abandoned.  Some I think I should be interested in, but finally admit I'm not.  A record of interests past and present, some attempted, some not. (Why do I hang onto those cookbooks?!)
My abiding curiosity about the human condition is apparent in the bevy of self-help and psychology books that date back to the 60's and 70's, as well as in a preponderance of novels marked by strong and interesting character development.  No science fiction.  No romance novels.
But most of all, I finally get it - get why this culling process has been such a long drawn out affair.  Why some people can't even consider it.  Books have kept me company during the loneliest periods of my life.  Still comfort me on those nights I can't get back to sleep.  They've provided validation for unpopular opinions, challenged my biases, offered distinctions that cleared the cobwebs of anxiety and confusion, and  raised questions and insights that have led me down paths I might never have traveled.  Their authors have been friend and mentor, critic and coach. They've brought me to tears and called forth waves of laughter.
What would it say about me if I could give them up easily?
Yup, interesting exercise.

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