6 September 2014
My grandfather died in 2011, while I was living in Amsterdam with Andrew. Andrew never got to meet him in person, but they did share a conversation over Skype before Gran died. It was the last time I saw him smile. I had never spoken to him on the computer before.
When I was in middle school (probably about 11 or 12 years old), my grandparents came to visit us in New Jersey. We were in the car on the way home from school. Gran turned around from the front passenger seat and said, “I want to know three things you learned today, and a question you still have.”
Over the years, I’ve kept that as a writing device. In college, I finished three notebooks full of those types of daily reflections. I think, for the next while, I’d like to use it here. Three things I’ve learned, and one question I still have.
- I’ve learned that I have hundreds of books in this house. 285 books, exactly. I never meant to collect books here. I still have hundreds of books at my mother’s house, and I’ve always assumed that was the bulk of them. But, as we’re getting ready to move flats in the next six months, I look around and realize how many books I actually have.
- I’ve learned that I haven’t read any of these books, proportionately. I keep buying new books. I keep taking books out from the library. But these books remain unread, and sitting here, and I feel I have neglected them. I don’t even know where all of them came from, or why I’m keeping them.
- I’ve learned that I like to have space around me. I love books. I really love books. But years and years ago I promised myself that the only books on my shelves would be the ones I was currently reading, and the ones I adored and had to keep. I’ve already attempted to stop collecting books for the sake of having pages all around me. Now, I want to have space. I want to share these books with other people. But in the meantime, I want to read them all.
So this is my mission: I’m not buying one more book at least through the end of the year. I’ve set myself a goal of reading 50 books for 2014 on Goodreads, to push myself forward into reading through these shelves. I have this fear that we’re going to move, and these books will still be in boxes because we won’t have the shelf space for them. That’s something I have never wanted.
The question I’m left with: when will I start to retain the lessons I learn, instead of having to relearn them all over again?
I’m off for a cup of tea and a book.