One of the most amazing things about books is that they do not only tell stories about the world, they also narrate history of a family. It never occurred to me until now. I’m buying a new bookcase and have to empty the old one.
The old bookcase itself has a story to tell. It was bought by my great grandmother and has been gathering books for almost a century. The book case is not an antique piece; it’s just a solid shabby keeper of my family history. The oldest book in was published in 1855 and was called “the Divina Commedia” by Dante Alighieri.
I started from the lowest shelf, as there’re the books which were found useless at some point and moved *downshelf* to make more room for the new. The first books I pulled from it were encyclopaedias of Biology, Geography, World History and Fauna Secrets. That was a hello from a distant past, when I was a very good pupil at a primary school and got curious about whatever I laid my hands on.
Then there were dozens of psychedelic books, lectures on yoga, spiritual periodicals and Christian booklets. So I remembered mom reading them and learning to be an extrasensory individual. She must have been well-read, as it was easy for her to control emotions, hold breath for a long time and even see what I was doing at school, when she was at work in another part of the city. There was even a book of dream interpretations by Sigmund Freud, which was so much fun to read.
Love stories and novels, I read in my teens, were also on the shelf. It was weird to see Sidney Sheldon’s and Bertrice Small’s novels mixed with mom’s religious periodicals. In my teens I was a huge fan of Bertrice’ sexy and romantic novels set in exotic countries. The stories usually lacked storyline, it went as follows: the main heroine fell in love or/and got rapped by a local guy, then was kidnapped in some Asian country and served there as a slave concubine. She fell in love with her current master and had a kid or two. By that time her first lover had found her and kidnapped back home. So in the end she was happily married to some local guy. That was absurd, but I got obsessed by all those spectacular locations, sets and sex, a lot of sex. Sidney Sheldon got into my life in later teens. At 15 I loved reading about strong and ambitious women, who got whatever they wanted and always came out to be a winner. I wanted to be one of them. I wanted to be the Master Of The Game.
Deeper in the shelf I discovered books from before-me period, they taught a young family how to run household, how to get ready for a kid, how to build up a family life. There were few books on knitting, sewing and cooking. I take it; mum wasn’t a fan of a kitchen. She was actually a very active lady, who played tennis (there were book about the game, too), attended university courses in the evening, worked at a factory, looked after dad and later me. Mom was actually good at sewing and knitting, but she never liked it.
Among the tips for a young family and courses of physics (I don’t remember anyone read it ever) were two books I adored as a kid: “Town In A Snuffbox” by V. Odoevsky and “Pine-grosbeak” by E. Charushin. The two stories were about a world that only a kid’s imagination could create. There were also some colouring books and encyclopaedias about dogs and cats, because at that point of my life, the parent bought me a kitten, who then lived with me for 16 years.
Finally, there were presented books, which I never got to read, as they seemed to be either boring or crazy. They still are.
So there I was, emptying the bookcase, lost in memories.