Magazine article Book

Secret Loves

Magazine article Book

Secret Loves

Article excerpt

MY HUSBAND LOOKED AT ME LIKE I WAS HOLDING A kilo of cocaine instead of a bookstore bag.

"Don't you dare bring that thing in this house!" he exclaimed, blocking the front door so ! couldn't get in. "We simply cannot go on living like this. You know the Rules!"

"It's only one. It's just one little book," I protested meekly. He eventually dropped his arm and let me inside.

I married a book guy. My plan was to marry a tool guy, not only because he'd be able to fix sticky windows and leaky faucets but also because I might get a redwood deck out of the deal. Unfortunately, the tool guy I could have married smelled like Sears. When the book guy came along, he smelled like shaving cream and Downy. Not only did we get married, but so did our two book collections.

I soon developed a habit of shoving books in drawers, the china cupboard, the pantry. If you think code-breaker John Nash was good at math, you should take a peek at the mathematically impossible stacking configurations I executed in order to get the most space out of our bookshelves. Oriental rugs have never been woven with such complexity.

As time passed, our book collection began to resemble an enormous litter of feral cats. It came down to this: Dump some of the books, dump the marriage or hire a Sherpa to help us navigate around the tall towers of literary matter in our house.

We both went through our respective libraries and culled every title we thought we could do without. We then hauled them all to a used-book store, where we traded them for store credit. When we left the store, we were each carrying a box of new books.

Clearly, we needed a more effective plan.

"I say we make a book box," my husband said, "and the rule is that if you don't absolutely love a book after you've read it, you must put it in the box. When the box is full, we'll give it to charity."

"Perfect!" I said, before I'd fully grasped the ramifications of his idea. I added my own misguided suggestion: "And how about every time we get a new book, we have to give one away?"

And so the Rules were born. I thought they were a fabulous idea--until the day came to dispose of my giveaway stash, which consisted of books I never returned to my high school library, botany and statistics textbooks from college, books with putty, embossed covers and Rosie O'Donnell biographies my mother insists on giving me as gifts ("All I'm saying is that you'd get a lot farther in life if you were as nice as Rosie," she tells me). …

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