Letting Happiness In – Letting Go of Books

The following is a copy of a Facebook ‘post’ sent to me by the author who wanted me to have the opportunity to choose a book. Publishing here because….well, you can imagine why because.

An Exercise in Letting Go (Or, ‘Let me give you a book.’)
For a long time, I’ve felt like the dozens of books I take with me from place to place, and the hundreds more in various storage locations, are like horcruxes (look up that word). I’ve felt that each is an intimately personal treasure, close to my hand, or locked away safely with the people I trust the most. In reading them, they changed me, and with my highlighting, my underlining, and my exasperated and sarcastic annotations, I returned the favour. Saccharine as it sounds, I took them to form some part of my identity. Not just that they have supported the development of my thinking processes, perspectives on life, and prejudices, but that ‘having a lot of books’ is an important part of who I am. I am a reader. Intelligent. Intellectual. Thoughtful. Reflective. Moreover, owning an amount of books that is hopelessly impractical for my lifestyle choice (fairly low-earning, fairly nomadic) seemed like a sort of promissory note to myself: one day I am going to have the lifestyle that I think is befitting of these books. I suppose what I had in mind by that was being an Oxbridge don, with an office of wall-to-wall bookshelves and living to be made by thinking, reflecting, and generating and discussing ideas. But, in fits and starts, I am beginning to understand that neither attachment to some identity, nor attachment to some outcome, is doing me much good. No moment is ever going to be more worthy of my joy than right now, because right now is all I have. Letting go of an attachment to some identity; letting go of an attachment to some outcome, is letting happiness in. :)

Twee Buddhist sentiments aside, I’m getting rid of my books. I’m holding on to a lot of them- the stronger the attachments, the longer it’ll take to feel ready to let go. I’ve catalogued the ones I’m discarding, thanking each for what it’s taught me, and writing a small response to each: part epitaph, part sales pitch. I’m going to put them up for sale in the coming weeks, but before I do that, I want to offer each of you the gift of a book, in the hopes that I might spread a little joy your way. Yours E.

This chap is currently selling his books through the University system however when they become publicly available I’ll post the list. The epitaph/sales pitch he has written for each book is worth a read and speaks volumes.

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4 thoughts on “Letting Happiness In – Letting Go of Books”

  1. Just to say…… in my current, exciting, scary, daunting, ultimately wonderful, hopeful (and magic) process of tidying (letting go….) yesterday was clothes, today was shoes, tomorrow will be books………
    There are a lot of them……..with attachments going back, some of them, to childhood. Not sure I need to quite follow this chaps process but thanks him for the inspiration, please.
    The rewards are multitude……….

  2. Hi traveller,
    I have kept many boxes of books in storage for several years because I could never find a suitable (big enough) home for them and because I just could not bear to part with them — until I read your latest offering. It made me appreciate that whatever gold is within their pages, it has already enriched me, become part of my thinking, and hence, being. I, too, very soon, will begin the process of giving the books back to the world at large. Whatever I make will go to a good cause — food and shelter — and that will be that. The ideas in the books will live on after me for others, and that is only the right, and proper, order of things. Thanks for the reminder that the written word outlives our frail frames. And, yes, I will resist the temptation to buy one of your books! Be well, Gerry.

    1. Interesting how one person, not me in this case, makes a move and others are inspired to do the same. Always so good to hear from you Gerry. Be well.

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