My books have been packed for the past few weeks. Thanks to some ongoing work in my apartment building and an issue that is (finally) slowly being resolved, I was all set to move. My books were packed, as were most of my clothes. I had taken all the art off my walls. The only thing, really, that remained was to pack the kitchen and bathroom and go on my merry way.
And then I calmed down. I decided to stay put.
My apartment is a lovely place in an old, quiet neighborhood. It’s a quick walk to my favorite coffee shop and a slightly longer walk to the library. I can go for a run at night, and the only thing to worry about is the number of mosquito bites I’ll get. And the rent is cheap.
So here I am a few weeks later, and there my books are, still packed and waiting in storage. I would bring them all home, except the heat and humidity have been horrendous of late and the thought of dragging anything but myself up to my third floor walk-up after dealing with a heat index of 100+ is decidedly unappealing. But I have brought one box home and while I was unpacking it, I encountered a strange phenomena.
I had forgotten I owned many of the books in that box.
Obviously, I hadn’t forgotten that I own quite a few books– I wake up every morning to see the bookcase in my bedroom holding nothing more than my change jar and a few forlorn souvenirs– I had forgotten which specific books were on my shelves. It’s a strange feeling. I have a good memory, you see, and I don’t own very many things overall. So opening that box and discovering a book about Irish history and gothic tale from the American South was a little strange. I didn’t remember them at all.
In light of this, I’m going to be parting with some of these forgotten-by-me titles. A few of them are going to a friend who would love to read them, but can’t afford to buy a bunch of new books at the moment. Others will probably end up at the library or at the used bookshop downtown. The older I get, the more my tastes are changing, it seems, and the books I avidly read in my 20s just don’t appeal to me like they used to. I suppose that’s natural. And it’s probably a good idea, once in a while, to go through things and clear out the stuff that’s not so relevant to you anymore.
In May and June, Barnes and Noble had a trade-in deal for their new e-reader, which I took advantage of. My old Color Nook had some issues, and I ended up with a nice little Samsung Galaxy Tab reader device of some kind that I connected to the local library system via their app. It’s still a little awkward browsing for books that way, but it works in the end. If I had a little more time to read it would be better, but we all wish for that, don’t we?
I just finished The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo, by Tom Reiss. It’s a biography of General Alex Dumas, biracial French Revolutionary who shot up the ranks of the army and was, ultimately betrayed by Napoleon and his cronies after departing Egypt. I had heard of this book when it first came out but, like many others I didn’t get it right away, and so forgot about it. I’m glad I came across it again at the library. It’s a fantastic– and true!– tale of a biracial man who successfully navigated both the high society of France’s ancien regime and the Reign of Terror. Perhaps if Napoleon has been less… Napoleonic, Dumas would achieved the historical fame he deserved.
Currently, I’m reading Madison and Jefferson by Nancy Isenberg and Andrew Burstein. It’s interesting, if quite long and complex. I had thought it would involve more Revolutionary War history, but the authors seem to have glossed over it (fitting, I suppose, since neither Madison nor Jefferson actually fought) in favor of their subjects’ political works for Virginia before the war, and their friendship and presidencies after. It’s a very long book, though, and I’m not sure if I’ll finish it or not.
Why would I not finish, you ask? Two reasons: 1) it’s due back at the library in a week, and 2) I’m getting ready for my next trip abroad. I leave in mid-August for another week in the UK, and since I rigorously plan things until I get there and throw schedules to the wind, I’ll be spending a lot of my free time getting stuff together and making arrangements for my cat and the mail and all the other little things you do before you go on vacation.
It’s ridiculous, the things I miss about London- the sound of the trains as they pull in to an Underground station (or perhaps I miss the ease of a good public transit service), the tuna and cucumber sandwiches from the Pret a Manger restaurants, and drinking coffee while people watching in Hyde Park. It’s the little things, I guess, that make a place memorable.
This year, I’ll only be in London for a couple of nights, as I’ll be taking a train up to Inverness, Scotland. I hadn’t even thought about Loch Ness being there, or all the historical castles. I picked Inverness by looking at a map of the British Rail system and thinking, ‘hm.. That looks nice and northerly’ (have I mentioned that I hate the heat that comes along with summer?).Then I looked up Inverness online and kind of fell in love. Castles and lakes and used bookshops and the Scottish highlands. What’s not to fall for?