Stranded in a fog of words

On Jan. 3, I filled my iPod.

I didn’t see that milestone coming. When I finally bought an iPod two years ago, I intentionally purchased a model I thought large enough for my ever-growing music collection, but not so large that its capacity would go to waste. I expected the device to break before I ever needed more than 30GB.

When I added the albums that pushed my music collection over that 30GB mark, of course I panicked. “I need a new iPod!” I thought. “Do I have money to bump up to the next size? What am I going to do?”

I quickly came to my senses and realized I was being ridiculous. I love being able to carry every album I own everywhere I go, but I don’t listen to all 17.7 days worth of music. I would be scared to count how many of those 6,352 songs I’ve not listened to even once. So maybe the problem isn’t that my iPod is too small, I concluded. Maybe I’m the problem.

I cleared enough music off my computer to ensure my iPod and iTunes would sync, and in the weeks since I’ve continued the spring cleaning. I only listen to one track from Amy LaVere’s album; though so many people loved it, it never really clicked with me. Off it goes. I load albums I’m sent for review, but if they don’t make the cut? Delete. 

The following weekend I applied the same mentality to my apartment. I have more clothes than I need, and so many that I don’t wear. My trunk was quickly overflowing with bags earmarked for Goodwill. My bathroom was next on the list. I had developed a tidy collection of samples: shampoos, lotions and anti-aging creams (lots and lots of anti-aging creams). Just because I might need this cream someday doesn’t mean I need to store it today (besides, by the time someday rolls around, the cream would have expired). I bagged them up and took them into work, where my coworkers quickly claimed the products and put them to use.

It felt good, this cleansing ritual. And it’s ongoing; I’ve got clothes I’ve set aside, waiting a few days to see if I really can part with them. If I don’t wear it, why do I own it? And I’ve continued to edit my iTunes as new music comes in.

But there’s one area of my life where I can’t seem to break the hoarding cycle. Books.

Last weekend was the Friends of Emmet O’Neal Library Book Sale, and I certainly did my part to support the library. By the end of the weekend I had bagged up 80 books: 35 for one of my best friends, 44 for me and a crossword puzzle book for my grandfather.

And I’m unashamed. It’ll take me a while to read all of those books, especially combined with my already-lengthy to read list. And OK, I’ve instituted a book buying fast: I am not allowed to buy books again until Feb. 22, 2010 (or next year’s Emmet O’Neal book sale, whichever comes first). I need to read through some of what I already own, and no doubt I’ll continue to acquire more freebies. (I’ve got a knack for it, well, a knack and Paperback Swap.) I’m allowing myself three exceptions, because you just never know when something fabulous will be published. I hope to have read at least a significant chunk of this year’s book sale purchases by this time next year.

Even so, books are one thing that I just can’t get enough of.

Book Sale Bargain Day Finds:

  1. Beowulf translated by Burton Raffel
  2. Travels with Barley: A Journey through Beer Culture in America by Ken Wells
  3. The Archivist by Martha Cooley (OK, I totally bought this book based on its cover.)
  4. The Best American Magazine Writing 2002 
  5. Name All the Animals by Alison Smith
  6. On Writing Well by William Zinsser
  7. The Best American Essays 1990 edited by Justin Kaplan
  8. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  9. I Feel Bad about My Neck by Nora Ephron (OK, I’m too young for this book. But I like Nora Ephron.)
  10. Watership Down by Richard Adams (My book club read this a few months ago. I … didn’t.)
  11. Peace Like a River by Leif Enger (See above.)
  12. Stern Men by Elizabeth Gilbert
  13. The Reivers by William Faulkner
  14. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
  15. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
  16. Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
  17. The Case of the Missing Books by Ian Sansom (Again I must confess: I bought it because of the cover. It has a date due card on it. And it talks about books.)
  18. The Summer of the Great-Grandmother by Madeleine L’Engle (Because I have friends who OBSESS over her work)
  19. Before Columbus Foundation Fiction Anthology edited by Ishmael Reed
  20. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
  21. Still Life with Woodpecker by Tom Robbins
  22. Reading Rooms: America’s Foremost Writers Celebrate Our Public Libraries with Stories, Essays, Poems and Memoirs edited by Susan Allen Toth and John Coughlan
  23. Sister Age by MFK Fisher
  24. Ray in Reverse by Daniel Wallace (Because I dig Daniel Wallace)
  25. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
  26. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt
  27. Leaving Home by Garrison Keillor (I have, um, never read or even really listened to Garrison Keillor.)


Filed under Autobiography, Listing, Reading

7 Responses to Stranded in a fog of words

  1. EOL

    Looks like some great finds there! Glad you could get by the booksale and GoOd LuCk on your vow to not buy until next year 🙂 I need to do the same but I know I don’t have the fortitude!

  2. CJ

    That’s why I gave myself the three-book exception! I rarely buy new, but to go a whole year without buying ANY any? That would be too much.

  3. Great finds! I have a hard time with books too. I’m trying to keep better track on GoodReads and give them up more easily to Paperbackswap.

    Brian and I both really need to cleanse our house of extra things. I think we’ll work on this in earnest after the wedding!

  4. CJ

    Oh, I am OBSESSIVE on Good Reads (as you may have noticed). And my paperback swap rule is, I don’t keep books unless I think I’ll read them again.

  5. Yay purging/decluttering… I agree. It is cleansing. I’m looking forward to the next time r & b go to my parents’ house for the weekend. I will spend at least a couple of hours getting rid of unnecessary items.

    And, if you’re going to hold on to something, books seem like a good thing to hold on to…

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