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Eulogy for lost friends

Posted: Tue Aug 07, 2018 7:17 pm
by Phil White
My house is alien to me now. No longer home. Wherever I look, there are blank spaces where you should be. Reminders of a lifetime.

Those of you who visit here regularly will know that I lost most of my sight a few years back. I have been completely unable to read print for about six or seven years, and, as I embark on having my entire house renovated, I have decided to "declutter" and sling out the many things that I have not touched for many years, and this includes my books.

There are very few shops left where I live now, but one of the few is a second-hand bookseller, and I asked her to come by and clear out my books. She came earlier this evening and I am feeling entirely bereft. We reckoned there were somewhere between 1500 and 2000 books there, and they leave a chasm in my life. As we packed them, I recognized almost every cover, although I could no longer read the titles. In many cases, I could remember where I bought them and where I was when I first read them. The bookcase of modern novels, the bookcase of medieval literature and poetry, the shelves of linguistics. History, Latin and Greek classics, "A concise history of British Road Haulage" (very concise at 500 pages - and yes, I did read it when I was researching yet another of my own unfinished novels). The politics, the archaeology, the natural history...

All gone! The story of a life.

In younger years, I moved house with alarming regularity. And whenever I moved into a new flat or house, the first thing was to have all my books up on their shelves, arranged just so. Only then could I call my new abode home.

It perhaps says a lot about me (and it is not an entirely charming picture) that I mourn for the loss of these dear, inanimate collections of paper and print more than I have mourned for the loss of close friends in the past.

But I was glad to see the look of wonder on the "book lady's" face as she discovered little hidden gems: "Is that a first edition Golding?" or "I always think that Faber published such attractive books". With luck, some will find their way to good homes where they will be loved and cherished. I wish them well.

Re: Eulogy for lost friends

Posted: Tue Aug 07, 2018 9:05 pm
by Bobinwales
A sad story indeed, but just remember how much pleasure you will be giving to so many people all of whom will silently thank you.

Re: Eulogy for lost friends

Posted: Tue Aug 07, 2018 9:27 pm
by Phil White
And I now have so much more room for all my DVDs ... which I can't really ... oh, forget it....

Re: Eulogy for lost friends

Posted: Wed Aug 08, 2018 12:34 am
by Erik_Kowal
I'm sorry to hear of this development, Phil. I can only imagine how wrenching it must be to you to close such a significant chapter.

Hopefully, by letting go of it you are making more room for something else in your life that has positive value for you.

Re: Eulogy for lost friends

Posted: Wed Aug 08, 2018 11:00 am
by tony h
I completely understand. We have "downsized" a couple of times and each time the greatest loss to me has been the books. I have had to replace some of them but the copy is not "my copy" and it doesn't have the magic or emotion of the original.

One I replaced I bought on ebay "good condition". The vendor was selling off some of his father's things. I tracked it from the vendor in America. It arrived, I opened it and inscribed on the inside was "To Anthony from Uncle Charles". It was my copy, a copy I had lost maybe forty years ago and replaced with an emotionally inferior copy.

Re: Eulogy for lost friends

Posted: Wed Aug 08, 2018 12:40 pm
by Bobinwales
Here is a story that starts with a terrible confession.
When I was a young man I worked in shipping on Swansea Docks. Although my job was largely office-bound, there were times when I had to go out. On one occasion I went to see a case of personal effects that had been damaged. The lid had been smashed and I put m hand in to see what was there. I was only a teenager gentle reader, and decided that the paperback copy of 1984 would be safer in my pocket; the owner would be getting recompense from the insurance anyway.
Years went by and my copy of 1984 went to someone who borrowed it, and like most books that are borrowed, never came home. Then, one day I was in a second-hand bookshop and spotted a copy of 1984. I decided that it was time that I reread it so bought it. That evening I settled down to read it and on the first page I read, "Bob Williams". In all my years in shipping that book was the only thing I stole and I ended up paying for it anyway. There is such a thing as kismet.

Re: Eulogy for lost friends

Posted: Wed Aug 08, 2018 1:19 pm
by Phil White
One book that shaped my thinking for years was "Future Shock" by Alvin Toffler. I suspect that it is still massively relevant - even more so now, so read it if you can get a copy.

Many, many years ago, I lent it out and it never came back. Years later, I was talking to a colleague about it and said that I wanted to read it again. He said I could borrow his copy. When he "lent" it to me, it still had one of my bookmarks in it. He still swore blind it was his copy.

After last night, things got worse at home. The morning room, where I had a couple of bookshelves of books, actually echoes now. It is like walking through a crematorium. I shall have to get something to absorb the sound. Maybe some books...

Re: Eulogy for lost friends

Posted: Sun Sep 30, 2018 3:27 am
by navi
Books are like pets. It is very hard to part with them. If you haven't read them, you don't want to let them go, and if you have, you still don't want to let them go. I changed countries twice. I couldn't take my books. I had to let them go. Painful.

But Bobinwales is right. Those books are still useful and are being enjoyed by other people. They are still alive. There is at least that to be thankful for.

Books are living things.

I loved Bobinwales' story. Bob, I think the Big Brother is watching you!!!


Re: Eulogy for lost friends

Posted: Sun Sep 30, 2018 3:50 pm
by BonnieL
It's nice how books can come back home. Many (many!) years ago I picked up a copy of "Of Space and Time and Other Things" thinking it was science fiction. Once I realized it was science, I decided to read it anyway - I was in love with it by the end of the first page.

Over the years the book went missing, but I never forgot it. Years later, the kids and I stopped in at a small used book store. We had the place to ourselves & were looking in different areas. When I saw Of Space, etc, I shouted out to the kids, "I finally found the book!" The owner yelled back, "The price just doubled!" :D

I went to that bookstore every time I visited the area, but sadly, it went out of business.

Buying on the Internet just isn't the same. One can find unexpected treasures. And the condition of the book can be checked out before buying. Not long ago I bought a book online. The seller emailed me after mailing it that he had noticed while packing it that some of the middle pages were loose & he would be willing to adjust the price if I wanted. Not sure why he didn't email me before mailing it.

When I opened up the book ALL the pages fell out. Thank goodness he was honest & gave me a full refund.