Saturday, August 16, 2003

Unpacking blog.

Busier than a Saturday ought to be, but this isn't a normal weekend. We cut open a lot of boxes, distributed some of their contents around the new house, then dealt with the empty boxes and the newspaper used for packing materials -- a lot of it. If that sounds like an orderly transition, something done in stages, from the packed to the unpacked household, then I've given off the wrong impression. It's been in fits and starts, here and there in various rooms and in the garage, in between the requests and demands of small children, and the need to do ordinary things, like eat.

I've unpacked about a tenth of my books. I'm not sure how many I have. It's a lot of work taking them out of their boxes, but it's a lot more pleasure than unpacking, say, dishes. Some -- many -- are old friends. I almost never dispose of any books, though many of them have been in storage for periods of time, especially while I lived in Japan. A lot of them were in de facto storage in the basement of our former house. There's room enough in this house not to have to do that.

They're all sizes and shapes, within the perimeters of conventional book manufacture, but the majority are paperback -- cheaper that way, but some of the hardbacks didn't cost much either. A minority both paper- and hardback came at full price, but I avoid that if I can. The subjects are as varied their looks, but the tendency is toward fiction, history and reference.

The collection is also layered, in a way that only means something to me. There are some as old as my college days. Others I bought in Nashville, Chicago, Osaka, Massachusetts, Chicago again. I bought some on the road, at domestic and foreign locations. I've acquired them at book stores large and small, chain and independent, new and used; at garage sales and thrift shops; at the closing sale of a book store in Salem, Mass., and on the occasion of the retirement of a Methodist pastor at a downtown Chicago church, who was selling part of his collection; some were gifts, a few were lent to me and never returned (a bad thing, but I've lost books that way, and maybe it evens out). Three or four I saved from being thrown away by someone else.

The Internet's great, Google is a marvel, but what would life be without real books? Drab, at best.


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