My twenties have been fairly nomadic. Since graduating high school I have had apartments in two countries, three states, and nine cities, lived with seventeen roommates (although not all at the same time, thank god), and moved a grand total of twelve times, sometimes changing apartments for just a couple of months during a transition period to a new job or city.
As any book lover knows (especially those with similarly itchy feet), packing up and lugging boxes of books up and down flights of stairs is tedious, strenuous, and overall an enormous pain in the ass. Each time I go through and make a separate stack of books that I decide I don’t need anymore, but it’s never very many, and I always end up taking with me boxes and boxes of books that, realistically, I’ll probably never read again.
I’m currently packing up to move again, this time into my boyfriend’s one-bedroom apartment; space is limited and we’re negotiating what each of us will keep and get rid of. Again I find myself packing away my library and asking, “Why?” This time I took a deep breath and put all my Norton Anthologies (which I haven’t cracked open once since college), quite a few “classics” that I honestly didn’t like that much the first time around, and ancient, falling apart books that I bought mostly because I like old books into the “donate” pile. Still, the books I have left don’t quite fit into the one large bookcase I own.
Books aside, I don’t consider myself someone who is overly attached to material things, and the only explanation I can think of is that, at this point, my library is more of a sentimental collection than a group of useful tools. If I’m honest with myself, I’m not certain it warrants all the trouble I go through to take them with me. There are certain books, for sure, that I do read over and over and use all the time when teaching, or that are instructional (like my language books) and that I need to keep around for reference. But mostly I think I just like having them around as a security blanket of sorts: they make me feel happy, comfortable, and warm.
I don’t foresee the nomadic existence stopping any time soon, even if it’s just into a slightly larger apartment down the road (don’t worry, I’m planning on taking the boyfriend with me), so it might be worthwhile to do some serious soul-searching to see if I *really* need to take that copy of Making the Fascist Self (it’s an Italian history book, not a how-to guide, just for clarification) with me next time I move. Or, barring that, maybe I’ll just find a little cottage somewhere, stay there forever, and primp for my inevitable debut on Hoarders.