I’ve been distracted the last couple of weeks. It’s a distraction entirely of my own making.
I started re-reading the first of 11 books by Sara Douglass that are set in Tencendor.
I originally read the first six more than ten years ago. When the final trilogy started to appear several years ago, I decided that once those three new books were all available, I would start from the beginning again. Read the first two trilogies, then the two stand along novels, and finally, it would be time to savour the last installment.
I knew it was unlikely that there would be any more books set in one of my favourite fantasy worlds and I wanted to experience the whole world all at once. The author had been diagnosed with cancer and there was concern along the way whether she would be able to finish the last trilogy.
She did finish and even wrote another book in a new world. But last fall, her journey ended.
Her books have always allowed me to get completely lost in the world she creates. I’ll admit to getting, well… very cranky, when I discovered that one of her other sets of books, which I mistakenly thought was a trilogy, actually had four books and the final book wasn’t yet published. I’d deliberately waited to start the books until I thought they were all available, exactly so I could avoid that wait and the desperate need to know what happened next.
So every spare moment, I’ve had my nose in a book … or more accurately in the Kindle software on my phone. You can use up your phone battery really quickly that way! I’m currently 55% of the way through book 2 (I couldn’t resist being specific since that’s exactly what the software shows me). The books are just as engrossing now as when I first read them and it’s long enough ago that the story feels new again.
There is an extra sweetness to this reading knowing that in this lifetime, Sara Douglass will create no more worlds to explore, no more characters to love, no more impatient waiting for the next book to appear on the bookstore shelves. But what a gift her writing is!
The thing is, re-reading these books has helped me realize something else. There are too many books on my shelves but not my copies of the first eight of these books. Those are in storage in the crawl space below the house, exactly because there is not enough room on my bookshelves.
My solution has always been to just find some place new to store books. But that does not feel comfortable any more.
There are books that I want to keep, books that feel like old friends, but I want those ones accessible for easy visits.
There are also books that I’ve never read and really no longer want to read.
There are books that belong to my old life as a youth pastor that I couldn’t bring myself to discard. They were too many dreams tied up in them. Dreams that I wasn’t prepared to let go, despite how much they hurt.
There are books that I bought because they seemed like ones I should read.
Books everyone said were great, even if they never really interested me.
Books I thought I needed to read, or at least own, in order to be taken seriously as a pastor, teacher, worship leader, creative person, author, Christian … whatever label I was trying to fit at the time.
There are also books hiding amongst the piles that I really want to read, but I’ve misplaced them in the chaos.
That’s not working for me any more. It’s time to review the bookshelves … and the book boxes squirrelled away in every nook and cranny … but I’m going to start with the ones I can see.
It’s time to make some choices. It’s time to let some books go.
It’s not going to be a fast process. I’ve got a LOT of books. I know that I’m going to need to be gentle with myself. It’s going to be hard to let some of the books go. There should definitely be warning signs about “personal historical snaggles” ahead over my bookshelf, but it’s time to move forward.
Imagine the wonder of actually having an empty shelf waiting for new book friends to come and live. Books that nourish me now. Books that will continue to inspire and challenge the woman I am becoming.
It’s time to let go. It’s time to make space. I did it with a tea tumbler and that was good. I can do it with books too.
One step, one book at a time.
This is going to be my step four. I’ve barely begun, but I know I need the accountability of writing these words out loud. I’ll promise there will be more to this story. You’re welcome to check in along the way. I just ask that you be gentle and encouraging.
And, if you need a virtual cheering squad as you work on letting go of things that no longer serve you, let me know. I’ll make sure my virtual pom poms and listening ear are ready. The journey is much less frightening when you have travelling companions.
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