I am very bad at getting rid of books. And this has been put to the ultimate test in my current need to excavate, dispose/keep and pack 6 years of my life in Shanghai into boxes for shipment to London.
A sentimental fool, I attach memories to my books and am probably the only person on this earth who has not succumbed to the convenience and ease of e-books and the Kindle. An ardent lover of the smell of paper, lugging a 1,440 pages paperback version of “War and Peace” in handbag makes me happy and inavertently attracts “Why would you ever do that?” reactions from people.
But moving day, alas, draws on apace, as doth the evil hour when I will have to take the shears to my sprawling collection in earnest. I suppose I could save the Penguin Classics by the simple expedient of shoving them into the shipment boxes. However, multiple copies with different cover designs and celebrity autobiographies I’ll admit, with a sigh of shamed relief, that I am never going to get round to reading (again) – charity shop it goes, my chicks.
Other books I could never consign to the recycling include half a dozen scribbled and maltreated Crystals guide books, bent backwards, frantically doodled and defaced into illegibility; entirely useless for reading, but transporting me instantly to my obsession of crystal healing and Feng Shui with one glimpse of their covers. Like the Creative Writing books, they are no longer texts so much as tiny time machines – handling them zips me back with a jolt to obsessions over fending off psychic attacks and bad luck. (it’s important to note that whilst crystals have special powers, daily clearing of one’s auric and etheric fields is important too. Me? Whacky? NEVER.)
So as I begin packing up my books – rather, sit cross-legged and read between guilty, frenetic bursts of packing – I know another pile of talismanic volumes will appear at my elbow. Which are your talismanic books, never opened now but never to be disposed of? And what do they represent?