Just a Perfect Day
Look at all those awesome books just sitting on my kitchen table. Look at their colorful spines, their New York Times Bestselling titles and authors — close your eyes and run your hand over the stack, imagine you’re me: At home, with my new books, standing in front of my bookshelves, finding the perfect place to store them.
Philip Roth goes with my other Roth books. In the same vein, Vonnegut goes with other Vonnegut. Know-It-All can go sit beside The Unlikely Disciple (since A.J. Jacobs was the mentor to the young author). The Pillars of the Earth will look outstanding next to The Red Tent. Suite Francaise and The Spies of Warsaw are sitting with my other Around the World books — Inheritance of Loss and Holy Cow belong with the section of my shelf dedicated entirely to books about or set-in India.
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius? Nestled right in beside Infinite Jest. I’ll let you imagine why.
My bookshelves may look messy and over-stuffed, but they are a deliberate design. Deep thought goes into where each book will live or where in the house it will be displayed. (The bookshelf in the TV room is a little more hidden. So, that is where Stephanie Meyer lives; and any awful-awful Christian romance book I read in junior high and haven’t been able to part with.
After a trip to Powell’s or a trip to a friend’s backseat (where this particular lot came from), I am rendered useless at my house until I have placed every book on a shelf. I’m running out of room to store my books…which I think is an amazing problem to have! But it was this exact same problem that prompted my friend Kathy, a social studies teacher at my school, to ditch most of her book collection. She’s downsizing and her choice was: Books or a couch. She went with couch and was driving around with boxes and boxes of books in her trunk. Her plan was easy — give them to Goodwill or donate them to Powell’s.
I was sitting in our Language Arts office listening to Kathy talk about the books and I spun around, with a deep ferocity. “What?! You have books that you are just going to give away? Sitting in your car? Right now??” I then had to craft a polite petition to acquire the books…without sounding pushy or selfish. Which is hard to do when someone else in the office is saying, “You should donate them to the school!” No! Not the kids! Me. Me!! I want them!!
Kathy agreed that I could (along with my co-worker Sunshine) pilfer the box before she donated them. It was a passing comment. “Yeah, you guys can totally take a look and see if you want any of them.”
But then no one moved. Kathy didn’t grab her keys, no one started walking out of the office. I was ready to go, like, right then. (I’m not one for delayed gratification. Personality flaw, I guess.) Kathy started showing pictures of the furniture she was selling, there was a brief conversation about Portland neighborhoods…and then there’s me, over in the corner, twitching like a meth addict and thinking, “Did she forget? Am I jerk to ask to go now? Was it just politeness? Or can I really go to her car and steal her books? The bell is going to ring and I’m going to miss out on free books!! Please remember Kathy, please remember!!”
Finally, I just blurt out, “Can we go look at the books now? I’m excited!” And my voice squealed like it does when I’m anxious. Sure enough, that was the way to do it, because shortly after that we trotted out to Kathy’s car, crowded around her trunk, dug through box after box, and I walked away with the amazing books you see pictured above. How awesome is that?? Any day where you can acquire that many free books is amazing.
Free books and the pleasure of placing them on my bookshelf. Add some red wine and you’ve got a nearly perfect day.