You’re moving to a space that can hold half the books you currently have. How do you choose? How do you choose? I guess I would start by not taking the ones that are performing structurally questionable duties (ie, those acting as table legs, monitor and printer stands, door stops, teetering towers of eventual destruction that are seemingly without purpose but may hold up the corners of extra spatial dimensions…)
Seduction is a reliable path out of domestic cul-de-sacs, so I decided to try it on my wife–all for the sake of my books. Grandparents enlisted to take our young son for the night, I proceeded to cook a nifty meal for two, to be gargled back with a brace of bottles of her favorite red, L’Esprit des Pavot from the Peter Michael Winery in Calistoga. (Wine-buffs will know how hard it is to score this stuff, and I can only hint at the abundance of books I might have purchased with the funds I had to set aside for the vino.) And then, halfway through dinner, with the mood suitably softback, I popped the question: “Love,” I said–sincerely, but not unmindful of the word’s diplomatic possibilities–”do you, er, mind–the wine’s good, isn’t it!–er, may I bring . . . a pile of books home from the office?”
She (brusquely actuarial): “How many?”
He (now a quivering wreck): “Oh, I think about 3,000 . . .”
She (for there is a God, and He enabled a munificent compromise): “How about 1,500. And not one book more.”
And thus began a process with which I have grown–as a man who has led a peripatetic life–heartbrokenly familiar. You take root someplace, then a call comes from Fortune herself and you move on to another place. And since there is no moving on without a leaving behind, you teach yourself to discard.