Tonight I started to pack for Colorado. 15 boxes down and many more to go. I started by tackling the books in our living room. Yes, that means we have 15 boxes worth of boxes in our living room. That doesn’t include the books in our offices.
See, we love books. Adore them.We are both academics and we have shaped our lives and careers around absorbing knowledge.
I fell in love with books as a child. My dad was highly educated and one of his indulgences was a subscription to a classic book service. Every month a beautiful classic work from psychology or neurology would come bound in leather with gilt pages. I loved staring at them. When he died and my mom asked whether I wanted any of his belongings, his library was one of the first things that came to mind.
Only another nerd would appreciate how intimate it is to see another’s books. When The Boy and I started to date, I remember being mesmerized by his library. I would wander through his hallways and touch the spines and be in awe when we’d be talking over morning coffee and come across an idea and he’d run to his shelves to pull out a book or find an equation (yes, we talk math in the morning over coffee).
As I went through our shelves I found books that have helped us become better athletes (climbing, hiking, running, triathlon, cycling, fishing). I found the cycling book that The Boy lent me when we first started dating. I love that it is now in our home. I found books by my friends Ray and Marsh. I packed away books that I anticipate using to climb Colorado’s 14ers.
I packed up books that we have read in our respective book clubs. My book club was a group of female scientists who needed a break from our brains so we read the Hunger Games and also The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks which was loyal to our geek streak (some actually worked with HeLa cells in their labs). His book group was an eclectic group of good friends and included a range of books from The Omnivore’s Dilemma to The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Through those book clubs we broaden our horizons and deepened our friendships.
I found classic books that we both loved, like The Great Gatsby and Jose Saramago’s Blindness. I also found sections that showed our different histories. My time working at a methadone clinic in Baltimore was represented by The Corner and his shelves held science fiction from his younger days.
We both had technical books that aren’t in our office. I had shelves full of mathematical and statistical texts, textbooks on abnormal and developmental psychology, neuroscience and clinical assessment and treatment. He had a few stragglers on computer vision that would join well with his volumes on robotics, computer vision, and theoretical math that live in his office.
In packing up our books I realized that putting our books together in boxes and on shelves shows is a representation of how easily our lives and backgrounds fit together. Sure, there are aspects of our libraries that are unique, but the thing that is amazing is how well they complement each other.