Saturday, February 13, 2010
Wild Card Weekend - Paula Graves
This past fall, I had to do something so horrible the mere thought of it gives me the heebie-jeebies.
I had to cull out a lot of my books.
Did your inner reader just curl up in the fetal position and start sucking its thumb? Mine did.
It's all my sister's fault. She and her two young daughters live with me, and we decided to move her out of her smaller bedroom upstairs into the basement den, which we were renovating into a small apartment. Unfortunately for me, the basement den was where I'd stored about half my books, forcing me to find room for them upstairs. But here was the rub: if there were room upstairs for the books, they'd have already been up here. So you know what that meant: it was time to cull.
Culling out books is hard for me. I'm a collector by nature, and many of those books I'd had since childhood. But as I went through the books, to my surprise I found that many books that once meant a lot to me I was able to lose without much pain.
Writing books were some of the more obvious casualties, now that I'm published and know a little more about what it takes to be a writer. Many of the books that were once so valuable to me for their information and support headed to charity or the local library in hopes that they educate and inspire other aspiring writers still reaching for the brass ring of publication. Also gone were the piles of romances and other novels I bought over the years as I tried to find my niche as a writer. Not all of them, of course; the ones that spoke to me, that helped me find my genre and my voice, remain on my shelves in an honored place.
Some books I'd bought as reference material for a specific novel could go because the novel was written, or the reference book turned out to be useless. I had books I got rid of because they were literally falling apart at the seams or they duplicated, in some way, other books I have. (I have a large Shakespeare compendium I bought in college that's in wonderful shape; what's the point in holding onto those little paperback versions of specific plays?)
The classics stayed, even if I didn't enjoy them, because I have nieces in elementary school who aren't too far from needing those books for their studies. I have books I seldom read but keep for sentimental reasons, like the books written by a writer friend who passed away tragically early from cancer. I'd kept my college textbooks forever, but I finally let some of them go--Algebra, Trigonometry--while I held onto others--Zoology, Spanish, all my English textbooks--because I think they might be useful to me yet. Who knows when I might write about a hunky biologist and a sassy English professor who end up on the run in South America? (...jotting that idea down in the idea file...)
I've often played along with the old game, "If you were stranded on a deserted island, what's the one book you'd want to have with you?" It's fun to speculate. It's not so much fun, however, to have to reduce your book collection by nearly half. I can attest to that personally.
However, I do think I could probably come up with a list of five books I'd have to have with me: The Bible, Jane Austen's PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, THE COMPLETE WORKS OF SHAKESPEARE, THE STAND by Stephen King and Harper Lee's TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. (But I sure would miss ROBERT FROST'S POEMS, PERSUASION, JANE EYRE, the Harry Potter books and THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN).
So, what about you? If you had to trim your book collection drastically, what would go? What would stay? Or is this a subject too horrifying to contemplate?
My current release is Chickasaw County Captive (Harlequin Intrigue, February 2010).
When someone tries to kidnap his daughter, Jefferson County DA Sam Cooper sees red. He wants little Maddy protected, at any cost. Even if that cost includes working with a distractingly attractive detective, Kristen Tandy. He knows Kristen wants to solve the case…so why does she try so hard to stay distant from him and his little girl? Remaining professional is something he fully understands, but the emotional—and physical—scars Kristen tries to hide make Sam deeply interested in turning things personal. And the more protection Kristen offers his daughter, the more her closely guarded vulnerability draws him in. Before long, as the truth of her past is slowly revealed, Sam realizes just how desperate someone is for her to remain silent.…
Read an excerpt at my site: www.paulagraves.com