When I got home on Thursday night, I looked through my bookshelves to choose some books for a library display for African American History Month. I chose a wide variety: Octavia Butler, Nikki Finney, Toni Morrison, Tracy K. Smith, Natasha Trethewey, and Alice Walker.
You may notice an absence of male writers. I have read those writers, but I haven't held onto those books. As we've moved, and at other times when I've sorted books, one of the questions I ask is "Am I ever going to read this again?" If the answer is no, the book goes to someone else, usually the local library.
Happily, one of my colleagues brought some books--he brought all male writers. So it worked out. We've got a great display. I'm already planning the display for Women's History Month.
When I got to the office yesterday with my pile of books, I thought, let me look through these and make sure that I didn't write anything in them that might come back to haunt me. I wasn't expecting to find anything, since the books with lots of writing in them stayed at home. If I lost the paperback of Alice Walker's In Search of Our Mother's Gardens, I would grieve the loss of my 19 year old self who wrote copious responses in the margin more than the actual essays themselves.
I found a note that I left for my sister to tell her that I'd gone to put gas in the car. I found a list of books I wanted to read one summer, which must have been the summer of 1984 because War Day is on the list. The other books on the list I have no memory of reading. War Day is a stunning accomplishment. I know because I reread it last year.
I also found this inscription:
The most wonderful man in the world who gave me that book is now my husband. And I did miss him that fall, which was the fall of 1987. He had one last semester to finish at Newberry College, while I went down the road 40 miles to the University of South Carolina to start grad school.
I'm glad that my books could be part of a wonderful display. I'm glad that they've kept me company along the way. I hope that at some point this month, students will wander into the library and discover a new writer/book.