Back in the day, I was an avid book hoarder. The sight of a book store sent me in to rhapsody. Or to the checkout counter. Whichever was closer. If I saw a book I liked, I felt a need to have a copy for my very own. Whenever I moved, which was too often, people groaned thinking about the weight of all those books. Then I went to library school, had more firsthand experience with inter library loan and became an advocate for sharing.
Around the same time I became a fan of the TLC show Clean Sweep. This show helped me to see that I was keeping far too much stuff for all the wrong reasons. Peter Walsh made a huge impact on my thinking about what is really essential in my life. I have him to thank for the many wonderful benefits of reducing clutter in my life. Peter is mentioned in our home whenever someone needs a little help letting go. We look upon him as practically a family member. I purged, gave away and donated many, many books. Inter library loan was my new modus operandi and I have used the service liberally.
Funny how life changes, though. Lately, I have gone back on the book buying band wagon. This time, there is a difference. No longer do I buy every book I see. No, this time my book buying habits are more difficult to regulate. I no longer just buy books, I buy signed books. Discovering the joy of the book signing has been a blessing and a curse. Frankly I buy the books so that I can have 30 seconds of face time with the authors I love. Not that they really get much out of a line of people who demand their signatures for every sort of oddly spelled names saying “Oh, I loved your book.” I do it for me. While it may not mean much, I do get to say thank you. That’s something Mom always told me was important. It’s something that I feel deeply. Somehow the signed book makes me feel that much more connected.
Funny, the very fact that the author is a master at aligning words to create a magical connection of heart and spirit does not seem to be enough for me. I guess I want authors to know that I, the reader, exist. I want them to know that their work matters to me. It matters enough to me to stand in long lines, in hot rooms, with my bag either falling off my shoulder or cutting into it. It matters enough to me to hold a heavy stack of books in my arms, nearly motionless to have the opportunity to tell my name, to smile insipidly and make an impression so weak that it is near meaningless. So what drives me to do it? Ask the hundreds of other people who stand in those same lines the question. I’m too weak to answer.