Drowning in Books, by Valerie Lute
Updated: Jul 14, 2021
This post is part of 805's “My Home Library” series that features writers and artists enjoying their home libraries during the pandemic and beyond.
I’m afraid that one day I’ll come home to find all the furniture has been replaced with books. Instead of a sofa, we will have a pile in the shape of a sofa. Our bed will be sheets thrown over stacks of tomes. For lamps, light bulbs will peek out of towers of books.
I’m always asking my husband to stop bringing home books. Since I moved in with him four years ago, his collection has exploded. Originally, he had two respectable shelves in the bedroom. Now there are two bulky cases in the bedroom and living room. The china hutch is rapidly filling two rows deep. The kitchen table, the coffee table, and the chairs are all regularly piled with books. My own shelf in the study is overflowing with books he gives me faster than I can read them.
It’s not that I don’t read. I just never read what I own. I spent most of my twenties moving every year, so instead of hoarding volumes that I’d have to lug from apartment to apartment, I got in the habit of using the public library. I would bring home ten books at a time, my shoulders aching from lugging them in my backpack.
I like the flexibility the library offers. If I decide I want to read French female novelists or memoirs about Cambodia or books set in Pittsburgh, I can go online and reserve anything that sounds interesting and they’ll appear for me in the interlibrary exchange.
Since the pandemic started, I haven’t been back to the library. But rather than plow through the stacks rapidly gathering all around me, I’ve been getting library books on my Kindle. My husband’s collection just doesn’t have the post-colonial African novels and Spanish language picture books I feel compelled to read right now.
And he feels compelled to keep collecting. Maybe one day his books will wall us inside our apartment. I’ll still be reading from the library.
Valerie Lute is a fiction writer and instructor. You can find her kayaking on the Charles River, attending Shakespeare productions in Greater Boston, or online at valerielute.com.