Finally, yesterday, I collected five big boxes and set to work on the shelves in my tiny office in New York. My office is a narrow room right behind my narrow kitchen – that’s my kitchen in the picture above – and it’s lined with bookshelves (as is the hallway, our bedroom and the guest room; our son’s room, the kitchen and the living room also have bookcases). And where there aren’t bookshelves there are still books – on my desk, under my desk, on my file cabinet and in a pile near my desk. Michael’s right: It’s too much. And the truth is, although I haven’t said this to Michael, there are books I don’t need and probably won’t need – ever.
So, I rolled up my sleeves and set to work. I spent 3 hours “on task” and this is what I’ve accomplished: I threw out 15 old magazines and put 12 books in a box that might or might not be a give-away box. I seemed incapable of touching a single book without opening it and reading something. And, of course, I couldn’t toss a magazine without clipping stuff first. (I wasn’t interested in that Rose Petal Sangria when it was first published three years ago, but it looked pretty appealing yesterday.)
I’m about to hit the books again today, this time with renewed vigor and a dash more pragmatism, courtesy of the annual call I get from a guy I’ve known since seventh grade. After catching up on parents and spouses, kids and work, he mentioned that he still had his notes from his college freshman English class! I teased him mercilessly. What was he ever going to do with them? Why did he need them? Did he think he was going to study them in retirement? It all seemed so ridiculous to me. And then I looked up at my bookshelves. What was that 1990 datebook doing there?