I am an avid list maker. The first thing I do in the morning is make a list of all the things I hope to accomplish that day. It’s rare I get them all done but while I’m writing the list, this wonderful optimistic notion that I will be getting things done fills me.
January is prime listing making time for most of us. We sit down and assess where we are and where we wish to be. One of my resolutions for 2014 was to get rid of things. This is pretty hard for me. I’m a collector of art and vintage things and as a crafter pretty much any thing may end up being used in a project at a later date.
So, when I set out to accomplish streamlining my stuff I used the 6 month rule: if you haven’t used it in 6 months, out it goes. I went through everything – no drawer, shelf or closet was untouched. I looked at each and every item and put it into one of three piles: keep, give away and trash. It was going pretty well until I got to my books.
I began to open books I hadn’t touched in years and thumbed through them. Out slipped Polaroid photos, notes written on cocktail napkins, bus tickets and other precious paper bits brimming with nostalgia. I didn’t just put things in the books, I also wrote in them. I underlined passages and phrases that moved me, I wrote copious amounts of notes in the margins, I scribbled down phone numbers and dates for future appointments as well as lists of things to do.
The best part of re-discovering the books and what they held was flipping to the last page. When I finish a book I always write my name, the date, time, location and then a line or two. Writing this now, I grabbed a random book off the shelf and found this messily written in the back:
“september 9, 2007
laying in a baby’s bedroom. long talks with old lovers. hot tubs and possibility… faith, love and surrender. be like water!
And in another:
san francisco, ca
on a park bench in san francisco with the sun playing tag with the wind. after standing in a long line at the dmv breathing stale air. desiring something i haven’t wanted for a long time.”
Right away I decided that the 6 month rule would not apply to books. There was no way I could let go of these notes or underlined words and even if I took the photos and notes out, they seemed to loose some of their meaning if they no longer lived in the book I was reading when I placed them there. It’s not just the things I added to the books but the books themselves. The lovely design of the covers, the way the pages of an old book smell different than those of a new one, the shape of the book and how it fits on the shelf.
I don’t think I’ll ever be a digital reader. My husband said he told himself the same thing yet now he reads 90% of his books digitally.
“You’ll change your mind,” he says.
I really don’t want to change my mind. As long as books are being printed, I will read them in print. I will run my finger over the slightly raised words, letter by letter. I will underline lines like this one by Denis Johnson, “I climbed aboard and sat on the plastic seat while the things of our city turned in the window like the images in a slot machine.” I will slip important things like photographs, things torn from magazine and newspapers and love poems and seemingly unimportant things like receipts and boarding passes in between pages. I will write my name, location, date, time and a few lines at the end of each and every book I read to remind myself of who I was when those words moved me.
The newest book I scribbled a note to my future self in The Yarn Whisperer by Clara Parkes. I’m not a knitter but I loved reading Parkes’ lines like “over time, those stitches form a map of our lives.” She wove a memoir full of beautiful prose not just about her life but how intertwined making things especially knitting was and is in it.
Be sure to check out the rest of our JANUARY DIY + BUSINESS BOOK CLUB PICKS
1. The Yarn Whisperer by Clara Parkes
2. Homemade Liquors and Infused Spirits by Andrew Schloss
3. Craft Inc. by Meg Mateo Ilasco (a must read for handmade business owners)
Want a chance to win of these books? All you have to do is…
Leave a comment on this post by January 13th at midnight telling us one of your resolutions for 2014. Make sure to include your email address so we can get your address and ship you something lovely to read.
We’ll announce the winner on Twitter on January 14th
THIS CONTEST HAS NOW CLOSED! CONGRATS TO THE WINNER: CAROLYN ADAMS