I spent a good deal of time complaining on here about how devastated I was losing my books. So I thought I should post an update about some amazing things that have happened since then.
After years of carefully curating my book collection, scouring bookstores for old copies of my favorite books, refusing to sell the books I read for my English classes in college no matter how broke I was, and browsing shelves for new finds, they were all gone in an instant. All 300 of my books. My heart broke. But then my friends and family helped me start to put back the pieces. All of these books were either given to my by friends and family or bought on a shopping spree where Nick told me to go nuts:
It may seem shallow to be upset about “stuff,” but I think that the things we keep with us say a lot about who we are and who we want to be. I’ve always collected books because I love to read and because it makes me happy to look at my book collection. Owning an old book gives me a connection to the author and to everyone who owned the book before me. Looking at books on my bookshelf brings back memories of who gave me the book, where I was when I read it, and how it made me feel. I love loaning out my favorite books to my friends and family and hearing how much they love them.
Before I even knew what happened, while our things were still in transit with mold rapidly devouring them, my brother gave me two books for Christmas. He gave me I Am Malala which one is one of my favorite books ever. He also gave me Fahrenheit 451, which I’ve been wanting to read. Here’s to brothers who know you the best!
Soon after The Incident, my friend Eli, who was my maid of honor, rallied together my friends and family to get a gift card for me to buy new books. What was most incredible about this is that she was able to get people I love from all over the world involved – Morocco, France, and all over the US. She sneakily emailed all of them and set up a website where they all could chip in. What meant most to me, even more than the gift card itself, was that all of my friends were in cahoots thinking about me to pull of this epic surprise. It made me feel so special. I was in shock and still get teary when I think about it. I have awesome friends.
So far, I’ve only gotten one book, American Gods, with the gift card. I have a huge amount of books in my cart, but I need to think carefully about which books to get before I make my big purchase!
Then my friends, the very same friends who already gave me money to buy new books myself, started sending and giving me books.
My friend Joe recently went to Vienna. The book and note he sent to me was probably the sweetest thing I’ve ever gotten in the mail:
My friend Christy sent me 4 books — two of my favorites and two I haven’t read! She sent me The History of Love, The Thirteenth Tale, The White Tiger, and Eat, Pray, Love.
And then my friend Joyce brought Fates and Furies and The Almost Moon to her own birthday party for me. I haven’t read either of these.
My friend Jenny, who lives in Hawaii, texted me to tell me that she found a bunch of Harry Potter novels and a few other of my favorites. She’s holding them for me until we can see each other in person.
I love old books. I love to collect first editions of my favorite books and I had quite a few of them in my old collection. So after I lost everything, Nick took me to The Strand, a used bookstore in New York City, and we went searching for some of my favorites that we knew would be hard to find elsewhere. He told me to go nuts getting whichever books I wanted. I left that day with an armful of books, including The Classic Fairy Tales, Peter Pan, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, and Fearless Girls, Wise Women, and Beloved Sisters. But what I was most excited about that day was this old copy of JM Barrie’s Peter Pan and Wendy, adapted for children and illustrated:
I will read this book to my children one day. It had to go on my bookshelf.
On Valentine’s Day, Nick gave me Tree and Leaf, by JRR Tolkien. I had never heard of it before, but it’s an essay about fairy tales, about the importance of them for both children and adults, about why they are so important and what makes a good fairy tale. I love fairy tales – they are my favorite kinds of stories. I even wrote my senior thesis in college on Harry Potter, with a big section devoted to the important of fantasy and fairy tales. I devoured this book in a few sittings.
Although my books were the most sentimental thing I lost, Nick and I also have to replace all of our furniture, all of our electronics, and a good deal of kitchen items. You know, things we actually need. As soon as we found this out, my dad ran out and bought me a coffee maker. He knows that the number 1 thing I can’t live without is a coffee maker! My dad is a carpenter, and now he is also building us some new furniture! I will be sure to post pictures and updates – he is so talented and creative.
I feel like our home will be even more cozy, even more special to me now. It’s starting to be filled up with things that mean the most to me, given to me by the people who mean the most to me. I never would have owned Tree and Leaf or JM Barrie’s Peter Pan and Wendy, or many of the other books that my friends sent me recently, if I hadn’t lost so much. I can’t imagine how many books I will read now that I wouldn’t have read if my collection never got lost. I’m starting to see the silver lining to this mess, and it’s beautiful.
I don’t think I will ever look at my book collection quite the same ever again.