Things My Mother Doesn't Understand

I love books. I love the smell of them (hint hint, go to awesome agent Natalie Lakosil's post on old book smell here!) and the feel of the pages between my fingers. I love to hold a heavy book and imagine the people inside just waiting to be met. I pick books up and think of the hours of enjoyment each one holds.

This is probably why I own so many, even now in the age of downloadable fiction. But, whatever the reason, this ownership thing is something my mother just doesn't get.

This weekend I've been on a room-cleaning binge. Since I've recently come home from school, there was a lot of unpacking, and a lot of dust that had accumulated on top of the furniture while I was gone. Apparently, if you put clothing on top of something dusty, the clothing gets dusty too. Who knew? I ended up completely rearranging my room in the process of dusting, and when you rearrange a room with numerous bookshelves, it is normal to get into a conversation about the books.

My mother, on one of her trips upstairs to see my progress, made this comment: "Why don't you keep just one bookshelf with your favorites, and box the rest up?"

Now, my mother likes things... bare. The house looks like we are trying to sell it "partially furnished" and normal people walk in wondering how we live with nothing to sit on. Try to find a knickknack or even a side table to put a knickknack on, and you'll search in vain for years. If there was a show "Opposite of Hoarders," my mother would be in the pilot episode. So, in the end, my mother doesn't understand my love of accumulating anything, let alone books.

I could explain I didn't have much room for boxes, and since I already have the shelves, what was the point? It wasn't like the shelves were overloaded (too much). Besides, in this house, if something is in a box for too long, it gets tossed. So boxes are sort of the death row for books.

And I need to keep my books. Beyond the wonderful feel of their pages and their musty smell, there is this thing about saving the world that makes me keep them.

The thing is, I haven't read half of the books I own. On my shelves are books from every genre, from kids picture books to textbooks. I have this book on html publishing, and a ton of cheap paperback classics from Charles Dickens' Christmas tales to Little Women to The Scarlet Pimpernel to... anything. I have Aesop's fables. I have a non-fic book on understanding scrupulosity. I have cookbooks and math textbooks and a book on investing. Of course I have a lot of YA as well.

I often think to myself "we live in the middle of nowhere; we'll make it through the zombie apocalypse and this library of mine will still be standing."

A couple years from now you'll all come limping into my yard and sigh in relief when you see my books. Books are the culture that I want to keep around for the dark days of the end of times. How lucky the future generations will be when my copy of Aesop's fables makes it through in this protected woodland we live in (I mean, seriously, we live where there is no cell service. Only five other people live in this town.... middle of nowhere).

My mother is not given to such fanciful notions. She likes to think that, in the event of a true apocalypse, we'll have stored food, not books. She likes to think that zombies aren't real. She likes to think that, should some form of apocalypse actually happen, no one will show up and bow down to me, thankful for my foresight.

There are just some things my mother is completely blind about.

If I was a rational person, I might say the books are helpful for any local person who needs something to read on a boring summer day, or if they are homeschooling their kid and need a math textbook. But I'm going to be honest and say my books deserve more adventure than that. I want my math textbooks to be the only link between our knowledge of number stuff today and the poor souls that need to piece the world back together after the apocalypse tomorrow. Is this too grand? Maybe. But I'm a writer and can make up stories for my books.

Admit you've done it too.


No? Just me?

In any case, I'm keeping my books. And I'm keeping my shelves. And should the apocalypse come and go and you find you really need something to read, you can find me in the middle of nowhere.

Just saying.