As I mentioned recently on my other blog, Entering the Enchanted Castle, I’m going through a big transition in my life. My husband got a job in Switzerland and has just moved there to start working, while I plan to follow with our son when the school year ends.
It’s been six years since our last move and I well remember what an ordeal that was. Now, I’m facing doing all that packing up, clearing out and hefting stuff again, this time overseas. I’m tempted to get rid of as much as possible and keep only the truly essential — but what is that? Particularly when it comes to books, it’s hard for me to know what I will need or want in the future.
It won’t be so easy for me to find English-language reading material, so I definitely want to bring along some to sustain me. Compact and multi-volume collections get the most words into the least amount of space, like my Library of America editions of Willa Cather, Ursula K. Le Guin, John Steinbeck, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Thornton Wilder. I could happily read from those for some time. The Complete Earthsea and Robertson Davies’s three-volume trilogies (the Deptford, Salterton and Cornish trilogies) will definitely come along too.
Another consideration: in the last few years I have overcome my resistance to e-books and it can’t be denied they are incredibly convenient for traveling. I hate spending money on them, but I’m tempted to buy some of the Delphi Classics collections to have a large, inexpensive supply of classic literature, which is always worth reading. And I wonder if I can get a library membership or e-book subscription that will keep me connected to a good assortment of books. (I know there’s Kindle Unlimited, but I am resisting the Amazon behemoth as much as possible.)
I’ve spent a lot of time and money building up hardcover collections of my favorite authors, but now when I look at them I just think how bulky and heavy they are. Will I really read them again? Will the joy of possessing them outweigh the hassle of moving them? Wouldn’t e-books from the library be easier?
Then there are books that are not just for reading, but for helping me make and do things: cookbooks, knitting books, travel books and so forth. The internet has made finding this kind of instruction much easier, so although I still love paging through these books, I don’t use them as often as I once did. Which of these are truly essential? What information do I really need on paper, and what can I trust to be kept in my head, or in some more lightweight form?
It all makes for some hard decisions, but I hope I’ll come to a solution I can live with. Have you ever had to move your books and decide what to keep? How did you make those decisions?