In this quieter space with fewer appointments on my schedule and fewer admin tasks for me to track, I have been doing some organization and clearing out. This is how I ended up standing in front of my bookshelves. One of my bookshelves. I have shelves in multiple locations which serve different portions of my library collection. This time I stood in front of the shelf which is mostly full of children’s books from my own childhood and from when my kids were young. I accidentally stood there for half an hour, reading spines, occasionally pulling out a book to leaf through. I was remembering, not just the story contained in the book’s pages, but also the story of how the book came to be mine, the story of why the book mattered to me, the story of who I shared that book with. These physical objects contain so much more than what is printed on their pages.
Books have shaped so much of who I am. They continue to do so both in what I’m reading and what I’m creating. I could write my life history simply by going to my bookshelves and telling the stories of me and each of the books on the shelf. I don’t think everyone stores and processes their lives in this way. Howard does to some extent. He has shelves of his own. One of my sons definitely stores memory in objects, but his objects are more likely to be video game cartridges. My other kids, less so. Books matter to me deeply, which is why making them is a large part of my life’s work.