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  • Writer's pictureShawndra Holmberg

Are your books lonely?

sorting your books? consider whether your books are lonely for someone to read and discover them

As I sort my books for moving, I have to decide which I'll take with me and which I'll allow to move on to their next companion. Most of my books have moved with me from Colorado to Montana and then on to Hawai'i. Some even went with me to Antarctica and back. Now I have to lighten my load and take only those that still need to be in my life for the next adventure. Or rather, I need to decide which ones will physically move with me, as all of them will come with me in mind and spirit.

In fact, I sat there with a book that I bought in the late 90's, gave away, and missed so much, I bought again. Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Bran Breathnach. I pulled it off the shelf a couple of weeks ago, trying to decide whether I should ship it or let it go. I thought about the fact that I actually bought this book again, so obviously, it meant a lot to me. For years, I've been planning to take the year long trek again -- reading each day's entry, journaling my thoughts on that day's topic, and creating the space for peace and abundance in my day and within me.

With this book, as with several others (Where's Waldo? and The World of Chas Addams), I was torn between letting it go and taking it with me. After all, each had brought hours of enjoyment, and the memories are still strong. I decided that before I packed them up to take with me, I would set aside an hour or two for each of them and delight in the pure pleasure of re-experiencing the joy they had given me. I poured my favorite drink (appropriate to the time of day), grabbed a book, and settled in for an hour or two of bliss.

Instead: boredom, blah, let down. I still had my memories, and I still could feel the joy of flipping through those pages for the first time. I remember my excitement as I found Waldo or laughed (or groaned) at the cartoons. But I'd grown; I'd changed; and I'd moved on. The thrill of discovering what was between the covers of each of those books is in the past and cannot be re-experienced in any place other than my memories.

But I thought Simple Abundance would be different. I thought I'd be able to create the space and the joy as I took time each morning to contemplate the day's topic. I knew that I wouldn't be able to do it every day in Hilo, as there was still lots to do for the move, but I thought I'd experiment and take some time here and there to enjoy the process (and not wait for someday when I had the time in Pennsylvania).

I've learned that you cannot re-create the joy and growth that happens as you experience a book for the first time. You can remember the feelings, but you can't re-create them. Besides I'm no longer the person who needed that book the first time. I've incorporated some of the wisdom from it, added insights from other books, and lived my life since then. I no longer need what those books have to offer. I can let go and move on to embrace new books and new discoveries.

If you are finding it hard to open up the space and let go of some of your books, I suggest you take some time to revisit the book (not just the memories) and determine if you still need the book physically on your bookshelf. Maybe you don't. And, just maybe, the book is lonely and needs to be held by someone new, by someone who hasn't yet discovered the joys within as you have.

“When you have possessed a book with mind and spirit, you are enriched. But when you pass it on you are enriched threefold.” by Henry Miller

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