The crazy old book lady next door
M calls me a “compulsive disposer”. I am constantly spring cleaning around the house. Clothes, gadgets, infact – any kind of object that hasn’t been used in the last month are dutifully thrown away, or atleast put in a bag and stowed in the garage to be given away during the next drive near the Goodwill store. This obsession extends to keeping email inboxes ultra clean (you will know that is a herculean task if you worked for Microsoft), regularly going through and deleting files and folders in all computers I come in contact with – you get the picture.
However, the one thing I cannot bring myself to get rid of are books. I have an addiction to Half Price books store like some people have to online shopping. Something about the smell of old books, used books, treasure troves of classics to be found hidden in some back shelf – just the thought of visiting a Half Price Books store intoxicates me. I indulged in more Woolf and G. K. Chesterton when I chanced upon a Half Price Books store in Redmond last week. I don’t think I will write about them – I have written about my love of Virginia Woolf enough in that one post and whatever else I have in mind feels too personal to be shared.
Anyway, unlike M, I do not buy books online. I buy like a crazy person when I am in a Half Price Books store or Barnes and Noble. Hence my utter feeling of loss when Borders closed shop. I am an old soul that way. But however I try, I cannot bring myself to give away my books to the local library or sell them at Half Price Books – even the bad ones. Its just something I can never bring myself to get rid of. I am so annoyed when people ask to borrow my books, I become a paranoid evil crazy person when somebody asks for a book from my library. I want to scream – “Harini doesn’t share books!” and that’s that. (Yes, Suudhan – you have to return Choke ) But then, the irony is, I wouldn’t be this person that I am if my great grand father had not indulged me in his never-ending library of books, giving me 2-3 old books of his that he felt were appropriate for my reading at every age, whenever I met him. Almost all the old books that I own are his – From scores of P.G. Wodehouse to Arthur Hailey to Pearl. S. Buck to George Orwell to Tolstoy to Explaining the Atom to a classy collection of crass adult jokes – I have inherited every flavor of books that I have enjoyed reading from him. And yet, I cannot bring myself to share.
I do imagine myself growing old and wrinkly with a house full of old yellowing tattering books with cobwebs, dust, silverfish and batshit everywhere and it is a recurring nightmare for M that I will be referred to as the “crazy old book lady next door” by small children to whom I WILL NOT lend books… Yeah, its not so much a nightmare for me – I think subconsciously I aspire to be that exact woman in say 50 years from now!