Books I Need

Ugh! Look at the dust/gunk on these books. Part of my Advent/o-souji December cleaning in preparation for a new year is to dust my bookshelves. I have to take off every book and clean it and the shelves. I did the 10 shelves in the living room over the weekend (not as dusty because the bookcases have doors). Now I’m onto the 13 in my bedroom. (Actually 26 because the shelves are double-booked.)

This is exhausting and time-consuming. However, it does give me the opportunity to get reacquainted with old friends and put all of them in their proper spots. (Hmm. I notice my copy of Annie Hawes “Extra Virgin” is missing. Did I lend it out?)

All this December prep helps me renew my reading goals for the New Year. I’m tempted to wrap up books I haven’t gotten around to reading yet and give them to myself for Christmas. But (as it’s less trouble), I’ll just make a Books to Read list in Apple Notes.

Do my books reflect my interest proportionally? My newly rekindled interest in sewing is represented by only two books. In contrast, my longtime interest in gardening has four shelves of books and a shelf of magazines. Plus one shelf in the living room of oversized books. Japanese language (grammars and dictionaries) has two shelves and another shelf with books written in Japanese (novels and manga). Japanese history and biographies and novels translated into English share two shelves. Plus a shelf in the living room with oversized books on Japanese design, style, crafts, paper-making, and book-making. There’s a shelf of biographies, another of Bloomsbury-related biographies and letters, only two of literature, one of writing (mostly technical writing). This doesn’t count the front closet full of childrens books or the hall closet full of miscellaneous books. And the spousal unit has his own floor-to-ceiling wall in the front bedroom and another bookcase of paperbacks in the hallway.

So, yes. I think you’d have a pretty good idea about who I am by looking at my bookshelves.I find it very difficult to cull books. With the exception of books I bought just from an interesting blurb in the Daedalus catalog, most of my acquisitions were books I’ve already read and wanted as my own, or old books that aren’t in the library. In short, I hunted down these books and I’m not likely to let them ago again.

On the rare occasions I do cull books, I later find myself reaching for a book only to discover it’s not there. I just found a book on kimono which I didn’t remember buying. I’ve never been that interested in the details of kimono but now thanks to Billy Matsunaga’s YouTube videos, I’ve become more so. And this book is the perfect complement, explaining in detail and illustrations what she is demonstrating. I didn’t need this book for 20 years and suddenly it’s exactly the book I need right now.