The other day I went through the bookshelves in my writing room, and cleared out all of the books I will likely never read, or never read again. The idea was to make room for new schoolbooks that have been piling up since my husband, Jean-Paul, started a PhD program in Social Work. The castaways will be donated to a local charity.
I am pretty good at getting rid of “stuff.” I’ve moved many times, and I like to travel light. In fact, I like to live as light as possible. But I have a hard time leaving certain things behind, or dropping them in donation boxes. The stuffed animals I’ve had since childhood fall into that category, as do a very few photos from different periods of my life.
Apparently, the following books (in no particular order) also fall into that category, because they are still on my shelves, even after “the big purge.” I’m sure this list says something about who I am.
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Northanger Abby by Jane Austen
Emma by Jane Austen (I guess I’ve lost my copies of Persuasion and Mansfield Park)
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (which I haven’t read yet, but this is an old hardcover that I know I must read)
The Hitchhiker’s Quartet by Douglas Adams
The Norton Anthology of Poetry
The Iliad by Homer
The Odyssey by Homer
A Collection of Greek Plays
The Wasteland and Other Poems by T.S. Eliot
Writing into the World by Terrence Des Pres (Jean-Paul’s father)
The Complete Essays of Montaigne (which I haven’t read yet)
The Greatest American Essays of the Century
The Truth Book by Joy Castro (one of my teachers)
America Dreaming by Laban Carrick Hill (one of my teachers)
MAUS by Art Spiegelman
Night by Elie Wiesel (which I can’t get myself to read)
Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion
Teaching a Stone to Talk by Annie Dillard
The Writing Life by Annie Dillard
The Diaries of Virginia Woolf (which I haven’t read yet)
The Hemingway Reader (I’ve only read part of it; this is an old, dusty book I found on my father’s bookshelf)
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
(and last, but not least)
Harry Potter, the first hardcover editions
Not particularly thorough, I’m afraid, when it comes to world literature. I can think of many books I’ve loved, and many important books that are no longer on my shelves, or that I’ve never read. They got lost, misplaced, of left behind along the way.
But it is interesting to look at the core.