It's not about the house.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Book 'Em, Sick-o

I stopped at the Goodwill on my way home this afternoon to look at books. I couldn't help it, it just happened. One minute I was driving down the road, the next minute I was in the parking lot - and I figured while I was there I might as well go in and have a look around...

My name is Erin, and I am a bookaholic.

When we moved into this house three years ago, I had more boxes of books than we had boxes of everything else all put together. When it finally (about six months ago) came time to unpack, I managed to weed them down by a total of five boxes - an accomplishment of which I was very proud. I don't really need two Madonna biographies, I figured; my seventh-grade history text isn't necessary anymore; and Portnoy's Complaint can burn for all I care.

I packed 'em all up and brought 'em to the Goodwill. I felt bad about unloading some of them. The spanish-language novels from an abandoned college minor that I'd only clung to this long out of a pretentious desire to see them on the shelf - was the Goodwill really going to be able to do anything with those? But I couldn't throw them out, and I had to thin the ranks, so to Goodwill they went.

And then I wandered around to the front of the store and brought another boxful home.

Well, how can you not? A hardcover book costs a dollar, for crying out loud! And they're all mixed up, so you get Art Buchwald next to the Frugal Gourmet next to Alistair Cooke's America. Regular-old bookstores - even regular-old used bookstores - where everything's all organized and alphabetical, are nowhere near such fun.

I made a rule about six months ago that I was only allowed to read things that would help me with this project that I'm working on. That meant no classics, no serious fiction, no serious biography - nothing serious at all, as a matter of fact. Just silly stuff, preferably true silly stuff making light of bad things that happen to good people. You'd be surprised how much of it is out there. So I'm allowed to go to Goodwill, because I have a rule.

Otherwise I'm prone to everything. The hardest thing for me to put back on the shelf this afternoon, as a matter of fact, was a guest book from somebody's funeral. I used to buy these sorts of things all the time when I saw them in these sorts of places, because it's just so wrong that they should be left lying around. I couldn't stand the thought that no one would ever buy them and that they'd be left on the shelf for years until they just got thrown away, so I would take them home. Guess where they all wound up in my big clean-out last summer?

I buy books that are the same edition of books I already own, because I panic and think maybe it is mine and how did it get here? I buy odd titles that make no sense (today I passed up a slim volume titled Sonnets from the Portuguese - just such a lovely idea, I thought). For some reason I have an obsession with King Lear - I must have thirteen copies, I just can't leave it on the shelf, I don't know why. Even now that I've finally read it, I don't know why.

But today the shelves seemed to be trying to tell some kind of story, a story that I couldn't quite suss out. There was a lot of Judy Blume, adult and young adult (think Forever and Wifey, not Margaret or Fudge). About twelve copies of The Bridges of Madison County (what is that about? are we at the point where the folks who actually liked that book are having their estate sales?). No less than three pristine hardcovers of the aforementioned Cooke's America, complete with dustjackets and everything (I have one, but the jacket's in rough shape; those were hard to say no to as well). Lots and lots of Reader's Digest Condensed. But nothing classic, nothing good. Oh, except for one bright pink copy of The G Spot - which I forgot had ever even been a book.

Who is this perverted old broad who's been cleaning out her bookshelves, anyway? I don't think I want to know...

Meanwhile, what did I come home with? Tim Allen, Erma Bombeck, Dave Barry, Andy Rooney and (thank god) The Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle Treasury by (my favorite) Betty MacDonald.


Hey, an addict's gotta do what an addict's gotta do. At least I'm not out there peddling Piggle-Wiggle on the playground.


MP said...

so does that mean I can toss all of the books you have in storage at the homestead????

Robert said...

Based upon clues you left in this post, I'm guessing that this project you allude to is "The Ege and I"?

EGE said...

Robert, whoever you are, I think I love you...