So good to see you again! To dust off our friendship, rearrange, put you back into order, reminisce …
I decided that, since it’s raining this morning and looks as though it’s likely not to stop anytime soon, today is a good day to begin the arduous task of cleaning the bookshelves in the living room. Arduous, I say, because there are one hell-of-a-lot of books in this house – approximately 1500-2000 in the living room and 500 in the kitchen – so it’s not an easy task to get around to doing this on a regular basis.
The problem, or actually PROBLEMS, with keeping print books in the tropics is/are: sea spray, sun, wind, humidity, rain, dust, leaves, lizards, spiders, bookworms, and other kinds of insects and rodents you don’t want to know about. (Not to mention well-meaning housekeepers who remove the books to dust, but don’t realize they are all placed on the shelves in a strict genre-and-alphabetical order … ) It means that those shelves end up looking like this:
(Trust me, much more gross in real life than the few cobwebs/insect bodies shown here … but I didn’t want to show you the truth and have you thinking I’m a total slob. )
And the books, generally look like this, requiring that EACH ONE be vacuumed, pages fanned to release critters (both dead and still crawling), wiped clean with a damp cloth, some disintegrating dust covers thrown out altogether:
In other words, time-consuming, so the job only gets completely done (by me) every year or three.
But, really, the time-consuming part is in handling each book separately, lovingly – okay, fondling the books! – remembering why I’ve kept each one all these years, what I loved about the authors and their writing, visitng again with those authors I’ve met during my bookish life, those who became, and have remained, my friends … It’s really more than just an accounting and listing of the books I own; more an assessment of what’s there, what I’ve kept by me throughout my life, and why. Aside from all the dust, dirt, grime, and lizard guano (or skeletons) involved in the job, it’s the most pleasurable thing I can think of to do on this rainy day on Bequia. (And it’s also a good excuse to avoid writing novel #2, now that I think of it!)
Here are some further thoughts on specific books (from the first shelf only – mostly fiction) that are in my possession, just in case you’re at all interested:
And a picture of Mr. Griz, when he was just a wee mite, and loved hanging out behind us on the shelves just above our heads whenever we sat on the couch watching TV. What better place for a kitten to hide than behind all those books! And see what good taste in books he has – he’s perched on top of my Cormac McCarthy collection. Smart cat!