When I was in first grade, I was in a school play called “Books are our Friends”, one of only two representatives from the lower grades. I don’t remember being told the reason I was provided the opportunity, but looking back now the reason is clear: I was into books and reading, big time. Fast forward 8 years, and the first thing I did when I got a steady paycheck as a teenager was to sign up for the Franklin Library’s collection of classics, beautifully bound editions with ornate endpapers, one per month at $15.20 each. I still have that collection, and can’t see parting with it, ever.
However, I won’t be able to take those 50 volumes onto Erin Skye when we move aboard in 10 months. There simply won’t be enough room. And if we can fit 50 books, we’d choose the cruising guides, sailboat system maintenance manuals, and homeschooling reference material instead.
As we work to eliminate our worldly possessions that won’t be accompanying us on the boat, I find myself saying goodbye to so many books that have kept me company, informed, and entertained over the years. I’ll miss the comfort of knowing exactly where to find reference material, the chuckles I got every time I looked at the cover of a Douglas Adams book, the sparkle in my imagination when I thought of young Christopher Paolini’s epic novels (who we met at a writer’s conference on our honeymoon in Maui), the connection I felt when reviewing signed project management books that my friends created, and the hope I felt reminiscing about how some of the inspirational volumes helped me through a tough time.
Last weekend at our garage sale we sold and gave away the last of the books that we will part with before fully moving into the apartment, the 1159 square foot interim step before living on Erin Skye, our sailboat that is having a few repairs in Mexico at the moment. At $1 per hardback, and $0.50 per softback, the books didn’t make us much money, but it was wonderful to see the faces of the teacher who found “just what the students needed” and the mother who knew her daughter would love a particular series. It was rewarding to see my cookbooks going to people who committed to making good use of them, and the eyes that got big and gleamed at the offerings of various fiction genres. We even learned that our handyman friend is a closet bibliophile, and were able to augment his collection.
I’m sure we’ll have to do another culling as well, and I’m not happy about it. Some I’ve saved because I wanted my son to enjoy them someday, but now he has a deadline. And I still feel the need to keep at least some of those books we read to him each night before he started to read to us. We filled long term storage containers with a few choice examples like Sandra Boynton’s hippo collection, and the classic Goodnight Moon that we all accidentally memorized.
But I need to put this all into perspective. We’ve decided to change our lifestyle, and live on a boat. It’s something that all three of us are looking forward to, and we understand the sacrifices that need to be made to have that lifestyle. We may need to buy digital versions of books that we’ve already owned, if they are perennial favorites, or borrow from a digital library, but I know we’ll have access to just what we need when we need it. We can tap into the large store of audiobooks that we already have as well.
While on the boat, if we’re yearning for information or entertainment that we just can’t get our fingers on or our eyes upon, we’ll choose a different area of focus until we can get what we were seeking. We can be flexible. And most significantly, I suspect that the world around us will be engaging enough to entertain and provide enough educational growth and adventure to help us evolve our approach away from the page or the screen. I look forward to that transition, but in the meantime, we’ll enjoy reading through the “not for boat” books before we pass them on to others to enjoy.