Constant Change… or Throwing Away Thackeray

Promises are made to be broken, they say. Well, this one certainly was. There I was, standing in front of my bookcase once more, trying to make room for my latest purchases.

Sigh… I promised myself not to do this anymore. Living in a small flat, being a person who hates clutter, I am painfully aware that if my shoes don’t kick me out to get more space for themselves, then my books just might. And I hate throwing away books… or shoes…

I’m aware of my limitations, so I know I am beyond redemption when it comes to shoes, I’ll keep buying them while only throwing out those pairs that can no longer be worn. But there are alternatives when it comes to books, I have no issues with virtual storage space. So I promised myself to no longer buy any printed books, not before I finish reading all the ones I’ve got. I was doing so well, no new printed ones for almost half a year…

Then there was that small yearly book fair… I stayed away to avoid temptation. Then my mother came for a visit. And that was it for my little promise. Needing to keep my book snob of a mother properly entertained, I took her to the fair. I left my three new books on the nightstand, hoping to find a better place for them once my mother left.

I ended up with a small pile of books I could part with… but that was not going to be enough. So I started a second pile – this time, one with books I considered to have a much higher literary value, yet I knew I wouldn’t enjoy rereading. They had all been must-read books during my school or university years. Trying to decide whether to throw away Thackeray or not (no, not Vanity Fair, that one I’m still keeping), I understood those books needed good homes, where they’re really wanted or badly needed. So until I could find such a place for them, I knew I couldn’t get rid of Thackeray. The books from the second pile went back on the shelves, I squeezed in those new purchases and that was that.

Days later I literally almost walked into this unexpected booth in a shopping centre – they’re collecting books for underprivileged children. Now I know where Thackeray and several others are going next…

In many ways, books are fluid. Their content depends on their reader, it morphs according to taste and mindset, it gains new dimensions as time passes. It remains the same, yet it’s never the same, and the paradox reflects us, it reflects time, it reflects change. I find it normal, desirable even, that a book change owners once in a while.

While going through some of the shelves, I came across my old copy of Stendhal’s De L’Amour. I started reading it to improve my French, I remember, and it suddenly became my favourite book… for about five minutes. I have only one excuse for it, really – I was a teenager at the time, and if you think a woman’s preferences may be a fickle thing, that’s nothing compared to a teenage girl’s. Anyway, I flipped through the pages and smiled. I often underline passages when I read. Once more I’m reminded, everything changes, everything shifts and pivots on those constants we find in life.

“Rien n’est odieux au gens mediocre comme la superiorité de l’esprit; c’est là, dans le monde de nos jours, la source de la haine.”

“Elle vous quitte par ce qu’elle est trôp sûre de vous. Vous avez toué la crainte, et les petite doutes de l’amour heureux ne peuvent plus naître; inquietez-la […].”

(Since I’m feeling too lazy to look up the official translation, I’ll provide a rough one of my own. But my French is very rusty, so I apologize for any potential mistakes, I don’t mean to offend any French speakers out there.

  • Nothing offends mediocre people more than a superior spirit; nowadays, that’s the source of all hatred.
  • She’s leaving you because she’s too certain she has you. You have killed the fear, and those little doubts of a happy love can no longer come to life; make her worry.)

Stendhal and I can still agree on some matters; others, however, couldn’t be further from my beliefs. Like I said, change is everywhere, and literature often changes its meaning right under our nose, even if the words remain the same.

Perhaps that’s why maritime sceneries are so appealing to me. In a way, the sea and literature are very similar. There is constant change and unstoppable movement beneath the surface. Just like there are no two identical waves, there aren’t two identical readings of the same book, not even by the same reader.

To me, they both signify life, change and evolution; they are both relevant constants, landmarks, paradoxical as that might sound. They also signify death – death of feelings, death of moments, death of old thoughts, death of stages and seasons, death of ignorance. Death and rebirth. Life.

(This post was inspired by the Lens Artists Photo Challenge – Changing and/or Changeable. Thank you for the inspiration, Amy.)

26 Replies to “Constant Change… or Throwing Away Thackeray”

  1. Enjoyed this post.
    It had s calm reflective tone that pulled me in initially and then had me wait to savor and read when I could enjoy it.
    And you know Ana – I think I have really found a blog groove of enjoyment as exemplified by the way I paced myself to be able to not rush through and visit blogs with a checklist – i go back to ones I want to and it feels natural and nice.

    And goes what I was reading when this post was in my reader last weekend ?
    Called Bulls Before Breakfast – and I was in a short trip so the book is imprinted in the memory of that trip
    I am not done reading it but enjoy the author’s personality a lot and it is culture rich and just a good read! I got it because of my bullfighter painting –
    -but sometimes when I take a book on a trip I have to keep it (esp if I mark it up like you mentioned)
    Anyhow – I like how you noted that the book is never the same read and the comparison to the sea was enjoyable.
    Also – laughed at humor about making room for shoes and books – and the piles and the choices behind “what” is parted with.
    I wore a pair of shoes today (mid-level heel) that were not the most comfortable (unless I wear them all the time) but I needed to wear them for me! The gait and the outfit needed them – and my calves feel tight but ahhhhh – it was a good call!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your bullfighter painting is a great source of inspiration 🙂 I know exactly what you mean, I connect some trips to certain books I read/purchased on such occasions, and I keep many of them for this particular reason.
      There’s a lesson there too – in so many cases one must wear a pair of shoes a few times before they’re as comfortable as they could be 😉 hmmm… such a fountain of wisdom, right at the tip of our toes 🙂
      Also, I’m glad you found your blog reading groove. I still have some catching up to do.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi – I am in catch up mode this week.
        Ugh – five week project to review curriculum (a lot of work but fulfilling) and guess what??? worked on Lady by the River three times this month –
        very big deal – and I will send everyone a copy of the final version – no new material – just fixed typoes and had Chad go back to his original story more than the rabbit trail he took with the redo.
        Ana – it has been awesome doing the edits –
        and right after that I am going to start promoting it a bit – as I feel led – maybe like you do with your books.
        side note – I saw an article on the web about shoes and it had the picture from the cover of your book – was that your original image or did you buy it? when I clicked on the picture it was gone, but it was in a little sidebar and I was like, “hey that is Ana’s book cover…”

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hi, Yvette 🙂 Glad you’re feeling good about “Lady by the River”, it seems like you feel it’s reached its final form – that’s such a nice feeling.
          Thanks for telling me about the cover image. I bought it from Canva (I saw the image and it was exactly what I needed) and cropped it a bit to suit my cover needs, so I’m not surprised to hear others are using it too. In fact, I even saw it as a book cover a few months after I published mine. I considered changing it, but I’m pleased with it as it is, so I just let it be. But I did my best to avoid that with “Albatross”, that cover is created entirely by me 😉

          Liked by 1 person

          1. oh cool – and I would leave the book exactly as it is too –
            and I thought maybe it was you in the picture – maybe from a while ago – hahhahha

            and diving back into LBTR really inspired me and I forgot what an encouraging resource it can be.
            it sure had been a nice part of my life and thanks again for being part of it.

            Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha 🙂 Now there’s a novel idea for a shoe. 😉
      No books on shoes, but I did have some shoe boxes sharing the same wardrobe shelves with books when I was a student. Does that count? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I know what you’re talking about, living in a small appartment having too much clutter and books and although I’m constantly decluttering, it doesn’t reduce. wBooks are great but there are few, I really care about and have read multiple times.
    It’s so great you found this adress to donate them 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s amazing how many things you can throw away from a small place, and somehow it doesn’t seem to make a difference. I also have some books with sentimental value, either for their content or because of the context in which they were purchased/received. Those I’m keeping, no matter what. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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