I’ve been giving thought lately to what books I buy.
I’ve found that I mostly purchase non-fiction, although I mostly read fiction. However, my fiction habit is fed by the library, or lately, borrowing from my kids (who have an extensive library of their own).
I’ve gone through several mad book buying phases in my life (although my husband will contend there was never any actual lulls). There was the allowance-for-SF-paperbacks phase and the book-club-99-cent-hardcover phase and the hey-I-have-a-job-and-can-afford-real-books! phase.
The mother of all phases came when I had kids. These books weren’t simply fun to buy, tiny little things that only cost $2-$4 (picture books), but they were educational, and supported the schools (via that insidious program know as Scholastic Publishing), and were guaranteed to be read 1000 times, if not literally consumed.
I still have a half-eaten copy of Go Dog Go, because there really is no more perfect mating of form and function than that book. I plan to feed it to my grandchildren.
Along the way, my kids have acquired their own bookshelves and their own collections of books.
Dark Omen is the most zealous of collectors, actually building a custom-fitted bookshelf to take up the “extra” room in his closet. It houses Tom Swift, Lemony Snicket, a handful of Harry Potter (the rest are on my shelf), and every variant of Artemis Fowl.
Worm Burner is more discerning. Or maybe there’s just too many Pokemon cards and piggy banks on his shelf to leave room for books. But he has a special place for the Choose Your Own Adventure series, the Trumpet of the Swan, and a few errant Little House on the Prairie books.
Mighty Mite hasn’t had much choice about the books that he houses in his room. As the youngest, all the books in the household trickle down to him. His small bookcase is crammed with everything from easy reader Magic School Bus that he’s far outgrown, to the entire Magic Tree House collection, to a vast array of chapter books of every stripe. But at the rate his reading level is zooming, I’ll soon have to clear out the “baby” books from his room, and make way for dragons and spaceships.
And then what will happen to those forlorn books of their collective youth? The paper memories of endless recitations of Cat in the Hat will be stuffed in a box, forgotten in the basement, perhaps donated to the library if I can bear to give up the last vestige of their babyhoods.
But not Go Dog Go or But Not the Hippopotamus. Not The Going to Bed Book.
Those hold whispers of love too precious to let go. Someday, when the gray hairs win the battle warring on my head and little ones are once again climbing on my lap, I will pull these cracked and half-eaten books out and say, “I read this to your daddy, when he was a little boy, just like you.”