Moving Books

Many momen­tous things have gone down in our house this sum­mer. #1 Son grad­u­at­ed from col­lege in May, is gain­ful­ly employed (local­ly!) as a soft­ware engi­neer, and has recent­ly moved to an apart­ment. Dar­ling Daugh­ter start­ed her senior year of high school last week and is busy work­ing on col­lege appli­ca­tionsIt makes me a lit­tle light head­ed to think of it.

It’s all good and right and as it should be, and we are proud and excit­ed for all these new life stages, etc. It is also hard some days. This relent­less grow­ing up thing that chil­dren will do…at times it makes this Mama’s heart catch.

But I’ve had my eye on #1 Son’s bed­room for a while now. It’s the largest bed­room in our house. He was five when we moved in and he lob­bied hard to have our room because he liked the idea of hav­ing his own attached bath­room. (This was hilar­i­ous then and now.) Our counter argu­ment was that his actu­al room would have the biggest clos­et — more room for Legos® — and we would paint two of the walls the bright­est bold­est red we could find. It worked. He gave up the per­son­al bathroom.

My office all these years has been in the small­est bed­room. The stacks of books and the paper that seems to go with writ­ing books has been crash­ing and slid­ing down around me in this wee room for quite some time. So we took this past week­end and cov­ered the red walls in the big­ger room with a sun­flower yel­low (sev­er­al coats!) and start­ed mov­ing things in.

You don’t real­ize just how many books you have until you’re forced to touch them all as you move them. As mov­ing books goes, this was an easy gig — I just car­ried arm­loads of books from one room to the oth­er — a mere six feet of hall­way. I logged over four miles doing this one day. So it did not escape my notice that I have A LOT of books. Also, I inher­it­ed a large, over­packed, floor-to-ceil­ing book­case in #1 Son’s room. (He took some books, of course — as well as a small­er book­case — but felt com­fort­able leav­ing the major­i­ty of them because he knows it is unlike­ly I’ll get rid of many.)

It was a trip down mem­o­ry lane, all that book mov­ing. In gen­er­al we don’t buy books we don’t love, and once you love a book it is hard to get rid of it. So we have…well, two children’s child­hoods of books. It was bit­ter­sweet to revis­it the mem­o­ries as I traced my steps up and down the hallway.

I could prac­ti­cal­ly feel the kids nes­tled up against me when I moved the Pooh books…. Could remem­ber the tea I drank as #1 Son and I poured over David Macaulay’s Cathe­dral book every day for an entire snowy win­ter….  I remem­bered many of the spe­cif­ic books read dur­ing child­hood ill­ness­es, a fevered list­less body on my lap…. I teared up remem­ber­ing read­ing aloud The Sword in the Stone to the new­ly mint­ed big broth­er in those weary days/weeks after his sister’s birth. (NOTE: It’s a dif­fi­cult book to read aloud when utter­ly exhaust­ed!) When I moved the Bet­sy books by Maud Hart Lovelace, it was as if Dar­ling Daughter’s entire tween years flashed through my mem­o­ry at top speed. We read many of those books snug­gled up under the cov­ers in one of our beds, her long skin­ny legs draped over mine.

So many of our favorites trans­port­ed me back to nights camping…long road trips and vacations…medical appointments…new mile­stones. There are sev­er­al book series I have con­nect­ed to these ear­ly weeks of fall when the kids head­ed back to school. Sep­tem­ber is always an excit­ing but stress­ful time. We chose books care­ful­ly for those weeks to pro­vide com­fort and rou­tine — Nar­nia, Har­ry Pot­ter, The Mof­fats, Swal­lows and Ama­zons….

It was exhaust­ing — both phys­i­cal­ly and emo­tion­al­ly. I’m glad I write for kids — I have an excuse to keep all these books! And I’m absurd­ly grate­ful for these read­ing mem­o­ries. The kids have them, too. There was a lot of “Oh! I remem­ber this one!” And they enjoyed hear­ing things like this: We read that in Dr. Ott’s office the day you were test­ed for allergies.

How do you remem­ber that?” they ask me. I don’t know — it’s vis­cer­al for me, I guess. What we read was a huge part of their child­hoods, and in these days when they’re grow­ing up and mov­ing on, these books that stay behind pro­vide me great com­fort and sweet memories.

Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Melissa Mark
Melissa Mark
4 years ago

I love your voice, I love your love of books, and I love you. Bravo!

Terri Evans
Terri Evans
4 years ago


Annette Olson
Annette Olson
4 years ago

One of the hard­est things about down­siz­ing a cou­ple of years ago was let­ting go of books, read and “intend­ing to read”. I’m a col­lec­tor of cook­books and had to “delete” about 100 of them, even though they’re most­ly for read­ing, not actu­al cook­ing! And the chil­dren’s books — like cut­ting off part of your par­ent­ing years. The for­mer chil­dren end­ed up with many, and Anna, our grand­daugh­ter took her ” best” favorite, A Por­cu­pine Named Fluffy. I’m glad you only had to move them down the hall! Look­ing for­ward to the fruits of your labors there. ( And I assume there’s a bath­room close, if not… Read more »

4 years ago

I had a sim­i­lar walk down mem­o­ry lane just last week when look­ing through our board books for some to pass along to a fam­i­ly with a new­born. Many of them were baby show­er gifts (what bet­ter gift than a book?)… Those books do bring back mem­o­ries, and there are some I won’t part with, but I try to remind myself that books are meant to be shared — and the fond mem­o­ries will only mul­ti­ply when we pass the books along to others.