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Clearing out and making room...

Can anyone have too many books? Our circa 1867 house is FULL of nooks and crannies, and in just about every one we have built in bookshelves. My husband and I and our seven children have collected books like nobody's business, and even though half the kids have grown up and moved out, taking some of their favorite books with them, we still have enough to start our own library.

A room without books feels unfinished to me. There are books in our kitchen (cookbooks, mostly, and whatever I'm reading while cooking), and in our hallways, and even in the bathrooms. Bedrooms, library, study, parlor... Oh, my goodness--would you believe our dining room?

Well, the thing is... these books get dusty. It isn't something I notice much, but sometimes someone needs to get a particular volume off a high shelf, or a bottom shelf, or . . . well, any shelf, really... and when they take it out, there is a fluffy pile of DUST on top. "This is terrible! What kind of housekeepers are we?" I demand. (No one else seems particularly bothered by the dust, I should add. They just blow it off with one puff of breath and go on their merry way, while I hunt down the dust buster and start vacuuming the shelves.)

The nice thing about cleaning shelves of books is that you find all sorts of long-forgotten treasures. My 'to re-read pile' is now the length of my arm, and growing. I can't wait to revisit my old friends.

And my bookshelf cleaning did not stop with our house. No, once I got on a roll, I was really rolling. My office at Mills College just came under that same scrutiny... and I'm pleased to report it is now pristine. For as long as that lasts...

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