Anna Weir is a publicist who thinks books are cool.
A few months ago, a co-worker caught in the throes of moving complained to me, “I have all these books.”
An avid book reader and hoarder, this normally would not strike me as a problem at all. But for my co-worker, attempting to de-clutter and downsize with the move, this only meant more cardboard boxes.
So I took them off his hands. Although he assured me more than once “it’s a lot of books,” it wasn’t until we were piling them into my car that I realized I had inherited a library.
Repeatedly assuring my husband I absolutely, definitely would probably only keep maybe most of them, I spent a weekend sorting through a dozen boxes of books. I piled up battered paperbacks and signed hardcovers around my living room, building a fortress of books. The paper parapets organized by subject soon towered over the couch. I finally got to hide in a book fort, but then I had to take it down.
And I did, mostly. I repackaged books and brought them to libraries, friends, and Goodwill. Books steadily flowed out of my apartment for a few days straight.
But then more rushed back in.
My birthday came around and friends shared with me their old favorites. My church group started a new Bible study book. I joined a book exchange and paperbacks started coming in the mail. I brought home some UNP books, prepping myself for future publicity efforts.
Needless to say, there are a lot of books in my tiny, tiny apartment.
But it’s hard to tell myself to get rid of them all. Not just because I’m a habitual tsundoku-er, as I’ve written about before. There’s just so much to learn from what has been written.
In my co-worker’s library, I found several books I never knew UNP had published—from cookbooks and food memoirs to the older work of well-known writers. The book exchange clued me in to a popular writer from the previous generation. And overwhelmingly, I realized the value of older books.
In today’s publishing world, one always has to keep an eye on the current trends and the other on future opportunities. But it’s not such a bad thing, I think, to use both eyes to look back once in a while and see the wealth of written words towering behind us like an ancient, sheltering oak tree. It’s good to hold on to the books that maybe aren’t trendy, that maybe other people aren’t buzzing about right now, that maybe you’ve read a few times already.
So while there will always be new books to watch out for, I’m hoarding my old ones, too. I can make room. As soon as I get a bigger bookshelf.