Autobiographical Book Collection

One of Laurie's recent posts was a transfer meme from Facebook in which you list 15 books that’ll always stick with you and in a grand gesture, she tagged everyone who read it. And it made me think about the books I have left on my shelves.

For years now, miscellaneous neck issues have prevented me from reading books in the traditional manner, instead listening to audio books, but for a long time, I hung on to my rather extensive collection of "real" books. And then at some point, I took a look around and had the overwhelming urge to minimize the amount of stuff in my home. Luckily, this was around the time where Michele volunteered to help me achieve that goal and it's something we've been doing on and off for a couple of years now. First there was the storage room, then the kitchen and then we started on the bookshelves. The project isn't finished yet, but when it is, then there will no doubt be a post about the before and after. However, today is not that time. Today's about books. More specifically, what I've kept.

Because I have kept some books. As we went through the shelves, Michele and I hit a groove of the lightning quick process of her showing me the books, me making a decision of discarding or keeping and it was a rather fascinating process at that. Turns out there was an astounding amount of books buried on an astounding number of shelves that I felt nothing for, that could easily be either thrown in recycling or deposited in my building’s communal spot for things you want to get rid of (and they usually disappeared within 24 hours). And then there were the ones that I couldn't get rid of, books where the thought of letting them go made my heart twinge and I quickly learned to listen to that instinct.

We are almost done now - with the books anyway - and looking around on the ones that are left, reminds me of a scene in the movie High Fidelity. Our protagonist (John Cusack in his best rumpled cad-about-to-grow-up mode) owns a record store and has an extensive personal collection in his apartment that he periodically goes through and reorganizes. In this one particular scene, someone asked him what system he's going to use next and he says autobiographical. My books are like that, representing moments in my life connected to the book, stories that changed me, stories that altered my perspective on the world, stories that absorbed me, and filled me up so much that despite being unable to read them again, I cannot let them go. And so, what I've kept expresses who I've been and what's made me who I am today, distilled down to maybe a quarter of the books that used to be here (of course, we won’t discuss the hundreds of audiobooks on my harddrive…).

So here, in no particular order, are 15 of the books that are still part of my home.

Anne Rice, The vampire lLestat

Guy Gavriel Kay, Fionavar Tapestry (it's a trilogy - is it cheating to just call it one book?)

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Nicholas Kalashnikof, Prince: The Story of a Siberian Stallion

Josephine Hart, Damage

Marge Piercy, Woman on the Edge of Time

Randy Shilts, And the Band Played on: Politics, People and the AIDS Epidemic

Isabel Allende, The House of the Spirits

Susan Falludi, Backlash

Jean M. Auel, Clan of the Cave Bear

Michael Marshall Smith, Only Forward

C.J. Peters, Virus Hunter

Henri Charriere, Papillon

Stephen King, The Stand

Terry Pratchett, Pyramids

As Laurie said, feel free to consider yourself tagged, but maybe share a few in the comments first?


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