So, ever since my husband read Marie Kondo’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up — The Japanese art of decluttering and organizing,” we’ve been on a downsizing kick. And nothing needs downsizing more than our overwhelming collection of books.
Yeah, I know… Not the books! You don’t want to be one of those Kindle People, do you? Staring at a glowing screen like the rest of the sheeple, paying the corporate overseers for another hit of Recommended Literature. Don’t you love PAPER and PRINT and OBSOLESCENCE?
You know what kind of people don’t have books in their house? Philistines! Ignoramuses. HGTV interior decorators with tidy surfaces and lots of negative space. People who choose a book as a Decorative Object solely because it is the right shade of persimmon. Do you want to be THOSE people? That’s what happens when you let go of your books!
Because who are you if people can’t walk into your house and see a hundred titles on obscure South African playwrights, English roses, or Texan poets? Don’t you want everyone to know that Here Lives Two People With Useless Masters Degrees?
We’re giving that up. Solidly middle-aged, I think we’re pretty clear on who we are. We’re people who need to get rid of shit.
So, every day my husband takes a box of books that we’ve culled from the herd and leaves it in front of his office on the square with a sign that says, “FREE BOOKS!”
But being my husband, he has to have Rules and Order, so there are Instructions. “Only one book per day, please.” This is because he wants people to Properly Appreciate the books they take and carefully consider each title. Once someone just walked off with the whole box and that sort vigilanteism needed to stop. So, if you’re on the courthouse square in Lockhart, Texas — Respect The System of the free book box. ONE per DAY per PERSON.
It’s a small town. You don’t want to put out your self-help titles or romantic Swedish massage manuals. But what’s nice is someone might come up to you in church and say, “Hey, I really loved that book on father-son bird-watching!” So far, the system is working. And we’re down a hundred books or so.
The Book Box has become a topic of conversation with my husband, and maybe a bit of a competition. I like to think my books are more popular. Cookbooks! Gardening! versus lugubrious meditations on West Texas. (Who am I kidding? He’d never part with those…) But, fact is, I too have some clunkers.
“Tracy, No one wants True Confessions of an Albino Terrorist by Breyten Breytenbach. NO ONE.”
Which brings me to today’s metaphor — being a rock-bottom remainder.
It’s funny how people ascribe value to things. (Yeah, like YOU Tracy. You once loved those books! And now you’ve abandoned them to a BOX!)
Some Book Box observations:
- If a box is just there, people don’t give a shit. They’ll take the whole box.
- If there are rules, people pay a little more respect to the box. They might obey.
- If there are a lot of books, neatly lined up, people are more inclined to maintain order and choose carefully.
- If there are fewer books, people just trash the box and throw books around. Who cares? The books are free!
Some chump lessons I have taken from the Book Box:
- Some people are greedy jerks who take things for granted.
- When you have rules, people treat you better and ascribe more worth to you.
- There’s strength in numbers.
- If people have devalued you, it doesn’t matter how great you really are, they’ll treat you like shit.
After being chumped, there are a lot of days you’ll feel like a rock bottom remainder. Just remember that you’re great work of literature, and someone, somewhere really digs Breyten Breytenbach.