I wrote my name on the book.

Books and books

Upon Books and Books and Books

How to get rid of your childhood books

I devoured books when I was young. My parents are voracious readers so it comes as no surprise that I would enjoy reading, too. Mom and Dad bought me countless books starting from when I was a baby. Many of these picture books, fairy tales, adventure stories and mystery novels are boxed up and stored at my childhood home in Nova Scotia. I live in Alberta with no storage space. What do I do with all the volumes that I feel a connection with through vivid memories, familiar stories and the fact that my mother (or me) wrote my name on the inside covers?

Give them away

Well, not all of them but a lot of them.

I was home for a wedding last month so I decided to tackle my things. These are items I left behind when I went off to university. My parents had thoughtfully packed my belongings and piled them in a large space that we call the storage room. It’s under the eaves and over the garage, unfinished and uninsulated. It’s freezing in the winter and filled with unbearable heat in the summer. Needless to say, this past July, I was dripping in sweat during my time travelling excursion.

I started going through my boxes, examining all my treasures from my past. There were things I hadn’t thought about in years and hadn’t realized I had missed. There’s a book about birthdays that used to fascinate me. Not only because it features kittens doing fun things like rowing a dory, but because it was printed upside down. It must have been a mistake. I remember opening the book only to get the last two pages, the wrong way.

Books don’t belong in a storage room

After an hour spent carefully looking at my books and putting them back into the box, I knew I couldn’t keep them all. I had at least 20 more boxes to go through. There were still Trixie Beldens, Nancy Drews, Enid Blytons and the Anne of Green Gables series to sort. However, there was a strong emotional pull to keep reminiscing and to keep the books. Unfortunately, I had neither the space nor time to do that. I had to have a chat with myself.

I said that the books weren’t being read in the storage room. The stories that took me around the world, to different cultures and worlds, were in limbo. Children should be diving into these tomes and discovering dragons and hobbits and oh, Gilbert Blythe. I should not let my memories get in the way of a good read.

But how can I give up something that my mother or me had written on? I like having that connection to my parents and to the much younger me. Then I realized that whenever I get a second-hand book, I look to see if there’s a name written inside. I wonder what that person thought of the novel s/he/they just finished. I wonder if I would like the same characters or scenes. Maybe the person who gets my book next will ask the same questions. Plus, my mother’s handwriting now lives on in other people’s bookshelves.

I donated many of my books to the SPCA thirft store in New Minas. Nevertheless, I did keep a few. Well, more than a few. However, time loosens attachments and even though it has only been a couple of weeks, I can’t remember which book I miss the most.

My boxes of books
I wrote my name on the book.
My mom wrote my name on the book.