Thursday, June 05, 2008

Back to the Basics

For the past few weeks, as I've mentioned previously, I've been sorting through the bookshelves, pulling out books that I no longer value as much as I value the space that they occupy. There's nothing wrong with the books in question, mind you--but I don't have to have them in these editions. Many of the books are signed limited edition volumes, long out of print, including books by Will Eisner, Frank Miller, Moebius, Ray Bradbury, Bill Sienkiewicz, Alan Moore, and others.

The thing is, I bought them signed, and I don't have an emotional attachment to them. I have some signed items that I cherish, because I watched the person sign it to me. And I've come to realize that, in many cases, it's the memory, not the book itself, that holds all the value.

So From Hell goes back to the store to find a home with someone who'll appreciate the signed limited edition more than me. Same for several Sin City books. I'm also parting with a lot of collected editions of more recent material that I've enjoyed on multiple occasions--but I no longer have to have that particular package, since I have a comic shop and can pick up a collection of most of this stuff at any point that I want to reread it.

So far, I've managed to clear off more than twenty linear feet of books. What I have discovered in the process, though, is that there are some books that remain valuable to me on a personal level; not only did I not get rid of them, I even put some effort into organizing them and flipping through them again. Marvel Masterworks... DC Archives... Robert E. Howard... H.P. Lovecraft... Doc Savage books... Ballantine Adult Fantasy... Clark Ashton Smith... the Shadow...

Yes, I see the trend, too. Most of these are books that enthralled me as a child and a teenager, and they haven't lost that sense of wonder. I wouldn't dream of giving up my Howard books, even though I have the Conan stories in about six different forms. I'd never get rid of the Doc Savage books, even though I know that some of the latter books are pretty weak. And I can spend an afternoon perusing classic runs of Flash or Green Lantern or Fantastic Four or Spider-Man or Thor or Justice League...

Who knows? A few years down the line, some of those books may be the next to lose their homes... but I doubt it. I think the memories are so valuable to me that I'll always find a space for them on my shelves... and in my mind... and in my heart.

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