Spring Reading

Spring has sprung. And that can only mean one thing: Spring Cleaning. Even those of us (read: me) most adamantly opposed to making big lists of chores are faced with — you guessed it — big lists of chores.

I’ve been mainly focusing on the outdoors: mowing the lawn, edging the paths, weeding the flower beds, weeding the vegetable garden, building an herb garden, possibly staining the fence and deck. And could this be the year that I finally annihilate the bamboo that I inherited?

(Seriously, the stuff is everywhere: my lawn, my driveway, my veggie garden, under my fence. I am haunted by bamboo.)

But then there’s the indoors, where I want to clean everything: windows, curtains, ceilings. light bulbs, door frames … and so on. I even found an article on how to detail my washing machine. Yes please! My inner Monica is thrilled!

In between all of these chores and work, I’m still reading. But, I will admit, the quality of my reading materials has lessened a bit. My ongoing literary projects are sliding slowly to the back burner while I tackle the ultimate item on my Spring Cleaning list: Spring Reading.

Let me explain how this idea was born. I live in a small apartment. I have no idea what the square footage is, but it’s probably something like 500-600 square feet, though possibly smaller. Within that space, I have two built-in shelves and one bookcase. Since it’s pretty well known that I love books and love to read, a lot of books come my way. Therefore, that small amount of shelving has rapidly filled up.

It is safe to say that my book collection has reached critical mass.

I had a decision to make. Either I had to get more shelving or I had to decide if I really need all of my books.

Gasp! What? Of course I need all of my books! This was my first reaction. However, there’s a fine line between collecting and hoarding. I had to start thinning, showing some preferential treatment to the greats and the not-so-greats.

I took some baby steps a year and a half ago, and gave away a trilogy. I didn’t just loan it to someone and never get it back. No. I gave it to someone who asked to borrow it, and told her “Keep them. Or pass them on. I’ll never read them again.”

It was painless. It was easy. It felt just fine. It was the Fifty Shades Trilogy, but the fact remains: I gave away books that I knew I would never again read.

And thus, Spring Reading is born. To start, I critically studied my shelves and picked out books that I could probably stand to part with. This took longer than it should have, but this project is in its infancy. These books are now in two stacks by my bed and I am in Phase Two, wherein I read each book one last time, and then give it away.

There’s a small amount of pain that comes with typing that phase. I love books. I love reading them. I love thinking about them. I love rereading them and then thinking about them in different ways. But the point to this project is not to get rid of those books that I read over and over. I’ll still keep my copy of autographed copy of Russell Smith’s Noise. I’ll still keep my well-thumbed copy of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, replete with notes in pencil on the back cover from my undergrad days. The crumbling copy of Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn that I got when I was 11? Totally keeping.

I could go on and on. But my point is, I’m keeping those books that make me love books. Spring Reading will just rid me of the ones that are shallow & flat & can only be read one way; the ones that are riddled with ill-chosen synonyms, too many adjectives, editorial errors; the ones that make me shake my head and ask “Who published this crap?”

I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.


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