Tag Archives: kevin henkes

Books: What to keep, what to donate?!

I’m renovating my house and the centerpiece of our new living room will be a huge bookcase that I found at an antique warehouse. It’s actually a reproduction of an English bookcase that originally came with a brass rail and a ladder. I’ve been coveting this for years. The plan is to take all my books that are scattered, piled, hidden and toppling all over the house, and put them on this monster bookcase. The “family room” is home to the television and the fireplace but our “living room” is where I will live. With the books.

As we rearranged the bedrooms, the kids just went through all their books trying to decide what to keep, what to pass on to other family members and what to donate. Although my son tried to put the Magic Treehouse books in the “donate” pile I grabbed them out. I’m not willing to part with them. We read all of them (ALL of them!) to him when he was about four. Each night either my husband or I would read about a half a book to him before bed. We would have read the whole thing but it was too much fun answering the little guy’s questions and talking with him about the things he was learning. I can’t part with those books. Anything by Patricia Polacco: keep; Anything by Kevin Henkes: keep; All the Dr. Seuss: keep. Easy decisions.

My daughter piled up a slew of books she read in middle school. You know the ones I mean: pictures of spoiled, nasty girls in cardigans on the cover and the stories all star spoiled, nasty girls and the stories are about spoiled, nasty girls. She loved those books. They got donated. She kept all her Scott Westerfield books; she kept all the Hunger Games books.

And then there are the ones from my oldest daughter, who is going off to college in a minute. Her books get shifted to my bookshelf. My books get shifted to her bookshelf. I love that. We have so many copies, in hardcover and paperback, of all the Harry Potter books. They move from room to room in my house. The college-bound child gets to bring her own full set (our graduation gift to her) with her to school.

I love that my kids have their own libraries, but I really love that I will soon have a home for all of my books and a quiet place to read and write. Perhaps I’ll give up one shelf to my husband for his books. Maybe. I don’t like to share.

How do you decide what to keep, what to pass on?


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You Can Stroke People With Words

I commissioned some jewelery to be made for me recently, by a very talented and creative jewelery artist. She took some of my old jewelery (like a gold rope chain from the ’70s!), melted the metal down and made some very cool new things for me. She and I were sitting in her studio, talking about some of the work she was doing, and she pointed out to me what she referred to as her “desk.” It was a very messy, beautiful work bench, filled with all kinds of fancy little tools, jewelery findings, gold dust, special jewelery making gadgets, magnifying lenses and lights. It was pretty cool.

I mentioned to her that I’m a writer and my life is cluttered with the tools of my trade, too. Besides piles and piles of books and other reading material in every single room of my house, I seem to find words everywhere. I collect words like other people collect Hummel figures or tea towels or whatever people collect these days. I explained how I’m terrible at reading picture books, graphic novels or comics because if there are words on a page I just look at those. I can’t even force myself to notice the pictures. (Ok, that’s a lie. I’ve read and loved every picture book  Kevin Henkes has written. But, you’ll notice that Mr. Henkes puts a lot of words in his pictures! And I was wonderstruck reading an ARC of Brian Selznick’s Wonderstruck, too. But he’s smart and doesn’t put words on the pages with the pictures. Love that!) But I digress. As usual.

As a writer, I find that I trip over words; I brush words off my kitchen table; I load words into the trunk of my car; Words grow in my back garden; I buy words in the grocery store; I punch words into my computer and then words spew out of the printer; I tickle my husband with words; My dogs shit words; Words are in my closets and under my bed; The doctor listens to the words in my chest when I cough; and when I blow my nose out come words.

How about you? Do you find your life cluttered with tools of your trade? Do you have a neat desk?


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