James Lileks: Heretic

Lileks breaks with the church:

Given the immense stuff-reduction program I’m on, it seems counterproductive. I set aside a great many books for the thrift store today, to give you an idea of the magnitude of this effort. (The piano required moving a table, which required moving a bookcase, which required distributing the bookcase’s contents.) Five grocery bags full of books – sorry, boys, but that’s the way it has to be. There’s a certain sort of despair you feel when you look at a 500-page book about a particular subject, and you know that you read it, and you’ll be damned if you remember anything about it. There’s an enormous bio of Mao – a Maobio – and aside from the general hideous cruelty of the bastard and his miserable regime, the main thing I remember is the ruinous impact of the drive to increase steel production, how everyone had to give up their woks and build poisonous smelters in the backyard. It’s 900 pages thick.

Out go the tiny-type art history books from college, because while I know the difference between Mannerism and Rococo I am reasonably sure I will never have to concern myself between the interstitial period between the two styles. Out go the phone books with Stephen King’s name on the spine; out go tidy little non-fiction accounts of narrow moments in history that narrowly affected another narrow aspect of Western Civ. Sometimes it seems as if these books aren’t trees you plant so you can enjoy the shade decades on – they’re bouquets you wear on your mental lapel for a week or two, enjoying the fragrant aroma until the book is filed and the perfume fades.

Suck it up and get a bigger house every couple of years like we do. You do not have to get rid of books, ever.

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