Books are another of my obsessions. And I am sure the house is groaning with the weight of them. I have been biting the bullet and doing a waaaay overdue cull. I currently have seven and a half small boxes ready to go. And six more bookcases to cull. One of the remaining bookcases is stacked three deep, and most of the others are stacked two deep. And there are perhaps a hundred unread books waiting on a table in the dining room. Can you tell we don't do formal dinners?
I have made a promise to myself that I will not buy any more books until both the cull is complete, and the unread books have changed their status. Time will tell whether I can keep the promise. I have my doubts.
While gardening, and pretty much everything else has been super painful I have been reading more than ever. And last night I noticed that my choice of reading material is decidedly dark at the moment.
This last week I have read 'in my skin' by Kate Holden. This memoir tells the story of her descent into heroin addiction and her work first as a street prostitute and later in two brothels in Melbourne. Interesting, but I suspect highly sanitised. In normalising both of her lifestyle choices she skims over the downsides, which I am sure exist. Similarly she makes light work of her eventual withdrawal from heroin after using it for five years in steadily escalating doses.
Then I dived into a book lent to me by a friend: 'when it rains' a memoir by Maggie Mackellar. Another cheery read. In a two year period Maggie's husband completed suicide, three months before their second child was born. Then her much loved mother developed and died from an aggressive cancer. Maggie's grief, anger and confusion are almost palpable. After a year she gave up the battle of juggling single parenthood and her academic career and moved back to the family farm in central west NSW, seeking and at least partly finding some healing. I lived for a time in the area, so in addition to pushing many of my emotive buttons the book triggered memories for me.
I finished that one yesterday afternoon, and started going through the piles of unread books to see what I wanted to read next. This was my choice, and I retired to bed with it last night.
I have not got very far, but it is beautifully written and I will continue. It is the story of how the author (and her father) coped as he developed Alzheimer's disease. She took over his care doing her best to retain his dignity while simultaneously protecting him.
So....this week I have delved into books about heroin and prostitution, suicide, cancer and grief and am moving into one on families and mental illness. I did find myself wondering as I drifted off to sleep what my choice of reading matter says about me.