Julia's been on a room-cleaning spree (hey! I'm not complaining!), and somehow she ended up with a bookshelf she didn't need. An empty bookshelf? In this house? Well, that didn't last long.
I found my copy of Elisabeth Elliot's biography of Amy Carmichael, such a rich book. She signed it for me. Mrs. Elliot was a huge help and mentor to me (through her books) when I was wrestling to figure out some of the darkest days of my life.
I post all this because a friend recently vaguely alluded that, because I support the use of ebooks, I might not really have a strong sentimental attachment to print books. This may have been said in jest or sarcasm. Still, I know better; I love my books deeply. And I don't love them because of professional attachment, although I loved teaching literature for many years. But my textbooks aren't on these shelves. And I don't even love the books for their authors; Capote was a nut, I think, Lewis had some oddities in his theology, and I won't even go into how troubled some of our modern authors are. No, I love the books for themselves, for what they contain. I long to live in Cranford or Candleford. MacDonald's stories taught me all I needed to know about magic. Perhaps I've come the closest to loving an author in Mr. Trollope, whose subtleties of voice are so winning.
I used to have more books, but I've given many away, keeping only the ones I don't want to be parted from.
Many things are lost. I bragged to this friend that I had a four-volume set of Kipling, rather old, with swastikas on the spines (before the swastika was a Nazi symbol, of course). Later, I wondered where the books were. In the garage? In a box? At my parents' house? So many of our things are scattered from too many moves, too much loss, illness, unemployment. Where was Mr. Kipling? My brain whispered to me where I'd last seen them: in a box, sitting in the driveway, sold for $5 at a yard sale when we were rather desperately leaving Statesville, and I'd decided possessions didn't matter when one had no home to put them in. What right had I to keep Mr. Kipling, or Mr. Trollope, or all the fine ladies of literature, when I had no home to protect them in? I was sick of dragging them around the country for 30 years.
So I sold Mr. Kipling and his cool swastikas.
My jesting friend and I were debating the value of ebooks or print books, regarding their safety. Amazon may delete your entire library, but God may take all your print books away with a 15-minute house fire. Now, however, I realize the greatest danger to my books: me. Books are beautiful depositories of wonder, knowledge, magic, history. They are everything. How tightly we hold them. How we love them. Mr. Kipling, I hope you've found a good home.