I am spring-cleaning, not just any Spring Cleaning, I am cleaning OUT. I have a passion for books that have overwhelmed the bookshelves and have made piles of themselves in front of the fireplace, and spread along all three walls in the office. The kitchen, too, is belching from the overload. Two copies of the Joy of Cooking? Well, it’s the original and the revised.
How many New York Times Cook Books can you have? (A lot). Craig Claiborne and Pierre Franey were prolific. The New York Times International Cookbook, The New York Times Dessert Cook Book, The New York Times Passover Cookbook (I’m not Jewish), The Essential New York Times Cookbook, The New York Times 60 minute Gourmet, The New York Times Natural Foods Cookbook, The New York Times Heritage Cookbook… Well, you get the idea.
And there’s more—every visit I would make anywhere, I would buy a cookbook. I called my Good Friend and Great Cook, Kathy Hille, and offered her my Complete Guide to Haitian Cooking that I picked up at the Mountain-Maid Self-Help Project near Port-au-Prince while doing work for the Peace Corp. Kathy had lived in Haiti for many years and has always been a cook looking for interesting recipes. She, as well, offered to take The Black Family Reunion Cookbook, Southern Accent, Hot Stuff, and the Uptown DownHome Cookbook. I am pleased they are going to a good home. For the others, I am waiting for the Museum of Art to call me back about a lot of Christie and Sotheby Photographs auction catalogs and photojournalistic books I would like to donate. I called my city library and they wanted me to come tomorrow. Really, I just want them Gone. I go back to work tomorrow, I am running out of time. So, I load up the car and head to the Goodwill.
I expect they would be so happy to see me—so pleased with my donation. But, to them, they are “Oh, books.” My heart stops a little. “ But these are really nice books, see?” as I unload my once so-precious volumes, full of knowledge and pictures. I am watched with curiosity. “Do you want to know where they go?” he says. Gulp. “I follow him inside the warehouse and he shows me a large box that can be picked up with a fork lift. “They’re dumped in here.” My breath increases and he proceeds to tell me that no one wants books. “They buy them and bring the same ones back.” I suppose he can see the fear on my face as he tells me not to worry, “They’ll go someplace.” He hands me my receipt and tells me he is sorry. As I drive away in my car, my heart feels as though it’s weeping as it falls deeper into my chest.
Image courtesy of Charter School for Applied Technology, Research Survival, http://www.csat-k12.org/11371022893325770/blank/browse.asp?A=383&BMDRN=2000&BCOB=0&C=52692