If you love them, let them go

Books are full of magic and pain. Of heartache and sorrow and (in the case of certain novels featuring the manliest of men making their manly way across Middle Earth – ILOVEYOUFARAMIRDON’TEVERGOCHANGING) unbridled wonder/lust.

But sometimes you have to let them go.

Space, place, shelf; all of these get too tight, too full, too crammed left-right-and-up-side-down with books. You lose titles in the madness, the glorious madness of titles that say nothing to the stranger but say everything to you; the title which made you realise you could love somebody, the title which made you weep, the title which you read curled tiny-small underneath the duvet clutching a torch and praying that your parents wouldn’t discover you were still awake. You paid for these moments of course, these moments which left you bleary-eyed and waking in Gondor but having breakfast in the cold damp light of day, but god they were worth it.

But sometimes you have to let them go.

These books, these books that speak of an era in your life, these books that stamped their presence on your daily existence. The horse books, the multitudinous horse books; the Pat Smythes, the sisters P-T, too much K.M Peyton to handle and that glorious glorious Encyclopedia of the Horse with photographs that satiated your desperate longing for a horse during those awful dry years of frugality and hope.

Sometimes you have to let them go.

You realise that it’s not the book, it’s the memory. It’s what the book symbolises, rather than the book itself. You’re holding onto the feeling, the memory, the days where you Jo-sat on the windowsill with an apple and had nothing else in the world to do but readreadreadread.

Sometimes, and sometimes hurts more than you may ever realise, you have to let them go.

You move out of home. Your parents move house. Your flat only has room for one Billy or two at the most. You want to live in a castle, all Beauty and the Beast ballroom wrapped in books, but you don’t. Not yet. Not yet. It will come but it’s not yet.

So you share them out. Make piles. Awkward wobbling Guggenheim-esque piles of books and literature city-threading across your bedroom floor. You donate them to charity shops, to the kids next door, to the school where they’re desperate for books, to anybody who can let these books live again.

And then, maybe fifteen or twenty years later, there’s that wonderful moment where you stop and you look and you see the photograph of your bookcase as a child and you see the title, you see the spine of a Follyfoot or the edge of a Bunty and you know. You want these books back in your life.

It’s a self-flagellating experience, book-collecting. But this moment. This moment when you remember it all, crystal-clear clarity, love pure and vivid rises in front of you and your fingers itch to read them again.

And you know what? You’re going to get them back.

 

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