I have always loved to read, and buying books is my guilty pleasure (a figure of speech because it doesn’t make me feel guilty). When I was a child, I saved my meager allowance money to buy books. I still have more than 30 of those childhood purchases–The Bobbsey Twins, Cherry Ames, Trixie Belden, and (my favorite) more–because of course, you never throw books away. (Except once. I had such an awful professor in one of my graduate literature classes that I wanted nothing to remind me of him, so I threw away the books I’d bought for his class. I mentioned that to one of the kids and the message was quickly relayed to the others: “Mom threw out books!”)
I re-read books–some of them more times than I can count. I still re-read my children’s classics every few years–Little House on the Prairie, Heidi, Little Women–and I still enjoy them. My inventory says I have somewhere around 1,700 books and I keep buying more. Over the past few months, I decided it’s time to cull the herd. Instead of choosing my favorites to read repeatedly, I vowed to choose books I rarely–if ever–select to re-read. If the premise was that all saved books were worth re-reading, I better do it for a change, right? Well, I might have enjoyed them at the time but years later, some of them have become less interesting. I’ve been donating those to Goodwill (because you never throw away books) and last week, James Michener’s The Source became the 164th book I put into the Goodwill box. It showed me how books have changed.
I didn’t have much extra money in college, so I bought thick paperbacks. They were inexpensive and took longer to read than thin books, so my money lasted longer. That spoiled my taste for quick reads and made it essential for my books to have a good plot and strong character development. The Source, like all of Michener’s books, has those qualities. Michener wrote The Source in 1965, it’s 1,088 pages long in paperback, and it only cost $1.65! Those were the days. That one took a long time to read, but I’m not going to do it again. It’s time for someone else to enjoy it.