When I was a child with a single small bedroom's worth of possessions, this meant sorting through my clothes and toys and putting the things that didn't fit (literally and figuratively) into bags to donate. It also meant going through my myriad art supplies and throwing away dead markers, unsalvageable crayons, etc. As an adult, this means combing through an entire house worth of possessions, boxing up household items and clothing I no longer need to be donated. It means combing through my studio's worth of hoarded craft supplies with their what-ifs and somedays and either trashing or donating these or giving them to friends who I know will make their somedays happen sooner.
One thing that I never, ever get rid of as an adult unless I really, really didn't care for the thing in hand? Books.
I never, ever get rid of books. Unless I really, really didn't like the story and will never, ever read it again. Or if I have a double. Then I will take them to the local used bookstore and trade them in for, you guessed it, more books.
I have some pretty massive shelves in the living room that Joe was kind enough to put up for me the day after we returned from Jamaica. All of my books are sorted by the alphabet and a little bit of whim. I had wholeheartedly considered sorting by the Dewey Decimal System, because I'm nothing if not a lover of libraries, but I just couldn't bring myself to smoosh large hardcover and pocket paperbacks on the same shelf.
Unfortunately, as a kid, I didn't have this same thought process, despite being a bookworm. And having a very small bedroom, a bookcase took up an awful lot of space. So, in a fit of cleaning madness, all of my books went out one day - save a few precious dragon related reads (Bruce Coville's "The Dragonslayers" and Patricia C Wrede's "The Enchanted Forest Chronicles") that I just couldn't bring myself to part with. All the Dr. Seuss, All the Golden Books. My Wild Things, Goosebumps, That Silly Olde Bear and Fairies Galore... all out the door. Because I had neither the space, nor the inclination to read them anymore.
And that particular grand declutter, has been a regret of mine for a number of years. Normally, I don't regret my clean outs, only on the rare occasion I've tossed something I didn't mean to in my frenzy. But this one, this one has stayed with me and I've always missed and wished, deep down inside, that I'd never given all of those childhood friends and adventures away.
One of my favorite illustrators and a large influence in my love of anthropomorphic animals, Richard Scarry.
Over the years, I've been trying to slowly rebuild my lost collection. A book here or there at a book sale or the used shop, a memory and old friend found at a yard sale. But it's hard, with so many books lost to memories; no one but the keenest of minds could possibly remember over 200 titles they used to own. But sometimes, as I'm perusing, something will jump off the shelf at me and tickle my memory... and it will come home with me. I've found a few Golden Books I remember loving, a few of the Richard Scarry anthologies that I adored and even a few books illustrated by my very first art teacher, who encouraged me all throughout my elementary school days. And my favorite copy of Mother Goose stories, with Mother Goose being a kindly old witch; my very favorite representation!
For some of them, all I have are wisps of plot lines, or what the cover illustration looked like to work from, but I won't be giving up. Whenever there is a pile of old children's books you'll find me rifling through, reclaiming wee bits of the magics of my childhood.
Children's books from the "Through the Magic Window" series, illustrated by my first art teacher (way back in elementary school) Bob Petillo.