I’m not sure when the topic suddenly became important; perhaps during that Cask of Amontillado moment when my husband found himself accidentally walled into the spare room thanks to a pile of paperbacks. Elbowing his way through Heinlein and King, Larry broached the subject.
“You have too many books.”
Inwardly protesting his use of the pronoun, I marshalled my wits and summoned my most persuasive argument.
After a lengthy, rational discussion that featured minimal shouting and a limited number of expletives, it was finally decided that we should cull our substantial collection. We started with “Larry’s” bookcase.
“Okay, all of these books are good, so we can keep them.” Part one finished, he promptly turned his attention to “my” shelves. “I think we can get rid of most of these.”
“Wait a minute! I need all of these; we can’t just toss them.”
“What about this one? I haven’t seen you pick this one up in over a year.”
“You were working that day.”
“What about this one? You hate this book.”
“Yeah, well … Somebody gave me that one. If they come over and don’t see it, they might get offended.”
With an expression that might have resulted in eye sprain in a lesser man, Larry made further suggestions. I met each one with calmly deliberated rationalizations.
“It’s a first edition.”
“I’m going to read that on our next road trip.”
“I borrowed that from someone, but I don’t remember who.”
“I like the cover.”
By the time we got to the last shelf, the vein in Larry’s forehead was sticking out like a relief map. Out of the few thousand books that we actually keep in the house, we had a donation pile of … one.
“Are you sure you want to part with this one?”
“Yeah, it’s okay.”
“Positive? It doesn’t hold any fond memories of the time you were stuck in line at the Post Office, and this book saved your sanity? It doesn’t contain a descriptive phrase that you’re saving to put on a T-shirt? It’s not the perfect size to use as a paper weight in a twenty-six point five mile per hour wind?”
“No, go ahead.”
In the end, I summoned the courage to part with a few dozen volumes. Larry’s face lost its purple tinge, and I mentally tallied the space that was now freed up for yarn.
I wonder what will happen when we have to start on Junior’s books.