Posted by Juliet Linderman

I am a pack rat. I keep everything–t-shirts that no longer fit but remind me of that one show I went to when I was 14; notebooks from classes I took freshman year of college when I still thought I was going to be an oceanographer; valentines from middle school boyfriends. More than those things, though, and like so many people, I collect books. Even ones I didn’t particularly like, I find it difficult to get rid of them. Many of my books serve as markers of milestones and important moments in my life. The experience of reading certain texts are indicative of where I was–and who I was–while reading them. My books, in many ways, are physical reflections and manifestations of my memories. Like so many objects, they are triggers. For example: I’m not a huge Kundera fan, but I will never forget reading the Unbearable Lightness of Being when I was 18; or when my roommate gave me an old, worn out copy of Moby Dick that she’d found at a thrift store on the day of our college graduation; or the hours I spent with James Joyce’s Dubliners in my University’s mammoth library while I was preparing for my colloquium; or the distinct difficulty of carrying Robert Caro’s epic 1,000+ page Powerbroker in my backpack to read on the subway, when I was just beginning to discover my interest in geography and politics. Those texts will always be important to me, but the books themselves–complete with my illegible notes, dog-eared pages, graphite smudges and coffee stains, are significant, too. Over at the Christian Science Monitor, Mark Gottleib talks about his own experiences hoarding and storing, and eventually selling, his books.

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