I’m a bit of a sucker for a bargain. This is probably one of the reasons I have so much stuff. I don’t like to spend much money on clothes, toys, books, or anything really, but I do want things, so when I see a yard sale sign, I dash out of the house and typically come home with an armful of amazing treasures – and I only paid $5! Library book sales are particularly dangerous places, because book purchases are so easy to justify. And with our local library selling donated books at 25 cents each, I find it hard – almost rude really – to resist filling up my many tote bags with book bargains, especially children’s books, which will surely feed my son’s mind with facts and fables. Who can have too many books, right? I remember counting my father’s books when I was about 10 years old and marveling at the fact that there were more than 1,000 of them throughout the house. To my young mind then, it seemed very special to have so much knowledge accessible in our own home.
Well, it seems that one can have too many books. My own shelves are overloaded, but mostly with Asian art books; they’re underused, but I occasionally dip into them for research so can just about justify keeping them. However, Theo’s bookshelf is a very different matter. What with the Scholastic book orders at school, the school book fair, the abovementioned local library sales and all the hand-me-downs from friends with older, but similarly biblio-burdened children, Theo has more books than his shelves can support and than he will ever read. I’d estimate that he has close to 200 – a fifth of the number my father had on his shelves years ago, and he was a working academic! And I am mostly to blame for Theo’s bowing shelves, packing science, history and storybooks onto them, in the hope that he will choose books over the tv, Legos, play dates and video games. But does he really need 5 different books on the solar system and 6 books on fun science experiments? Realizing that, if I have to be honest, I didn’t read that much myself when I was his age and can’t force him to, I scooped up four science experiment books and walked them over the Little Free Library* by his school and left them for another over-zealous, bargain-loving parent to pick up for free and pack into their kid’s bookshelf.
*I will write more on this wonderful community resource in future blogs.