Every now and then my husband and I go through the extremely necessary process of weeding our bookshelves. When two English Literature book nerds live in an 800-square-foot 1-bedroom apartment with a 60 pound excitable dog and a cat whose life inspiration seems to be Kevin Bacon from Footloose, it is required.
It used to just be like “Well, this cover is falling off and also looks TERRIBLE” and “Why are there three copies of the movie Hildago hidden in this bookshelf” or “We tried to read that book five times and have failed. I need it to stop taunting me with its mean bookish face.”
Lately, its taken on a different tone though. With more people (rightly) being outed for their horrible behavior, especially in regards to assault, choosing what to keep and what to give away has a different, and more serious feel to it.
Some things are easy, right? That book was fine, or that comic was enjoyable, but I don’t want to reread it really. Or I bought that book because everyone loved it, but before I even read it, HEY-o, that author turned out to be terrible. Whelp, I have time for other books now. (This has happened an alarming amount lately, actually).
Some things are a little more difficult, but I know that I won’t ever be able to pick it up something I used to enjoy without that association. Well, that book can be given away to make room for something better. I have limited space, and that space should be used for non-horrible people.
But what about that book, that signed copy on the top shelf there? For a long time it was a household favorite. It meant a lot to both my husband and me, to the point that he derived a nickname from one of the main characters. It mattered for representation, for being seen, and just for sheer enjoyment.
But when I’m looking at the book and thinking about that, and thinking about how much it means to me, I remember that this really isn’t about me. Because the reality is there’s a real person in the world for whom this isn’t a discussion about censorship or meaning or memories. For that person, its about the harm caused. That is far more important than my connection with this book.
People are more important than books.
Seems obvious, but I don’t think it is to everyone. And the reality is there are many, many more books not written by assholes that can take that place. I can make room for new favorites, so I think I’m letting go of this one. Just room for another new adventure, really. Another great discovery can be right around the horizon.