Here in Los Angeles, we've had the most glorious reading weather the past month. It's been a string of days waking up to gently falling rain which led to misty mornings reading with bright candles and hot coffee. The mornings became cozy afternoons organizing my library while listening for the tea kettle to whistle.
As I took the books from their color-coded homes, to lovingly dust the shelves, I was flooded with memories as I held each title. Memories of other lives, in other apartments, in other cities came back to life. Like the pages of a journal, each book held a piece of my life inside it.
Some books represent an entire season of life. The season that gave rise to the Paper & Glam we know today includes Simple Abundance, Cold Tangerines, and Love Does. Other titles hold very specific memories. When I hold Food, Women & God I think of sitting on the floor by the fireplace of my first apartment, unfurnished and newly built. Even books I didn't enjoy held tangible memories as I flipped through to find pictures and seasonal living lists from years past I used as bookmarks.
As I hold The Light Between Oceans, I remember reading it with my book club in Denver, which inspired me to start the Paper & Glam Book Club. Holding Stories I Only Tell My Friends, I remember a November day, listening to Rob Lowe read it on Audible and cackling while a Lush orange sparkly pumpkin dissolved in the bathtub of my first apartment in LA.
Those days are gone, but the books are still here holding their moments.
As I went through this two month process of organizing my library and deciding what titles have earned their place on my shelves, and which will go back into the world, I realized how my reading life has shaped every piece of the life I lead today.
Books capture entire places of time in our lives as we turn their pages. Then, like a time capsule, we open them some years later to find pieces of ourselves we left between their covers.
Rosanne Cash said, “Books find their way to you when you need them," and that's been my experience. When I walk into my library to choose what to read next, the book seems to choose me like they was just sitting there waiting for me to come to just this moment. When I read, there's almost always a line that changes the way I view the entire landscape of my life. I read for moments like that.
My library organization project is complete; except for the final task of donating a stack of books taller than I am. I've come away from this project wanting to create a dedicated record of my reading life.
I've invested in two Leuchtturm1917 hardcover journals: one blank lined journal and an ex-libris book review journal. The pink journal will record my favorite quotes and the black journal will hold my reviews and notes.
Do YOU record your reading life? If so, how?