Figuring out how the pieces fit into my life

I have books everywhere. I am one of those dinosaurs who has not graduated to electronic books, and still considers turning paper pages a comforting and enjoyable process.

I love getting new books and have trouble parting with books I have read but will never read again and really am not even fond of, because they are BOOKS. But every once in awhile, I grit my teeth and load up a box for somebody’s charity sale.

I also have several books going at the same time. There are a couple of books I am reading upstairs in my bedroom. Which one I read on a given night depends on my mood and ability to concentrate. I have one going downstairs near my recliner. I have one in my crochet bag that I take with me when I’m on the road. And I have one in my van.

I usually have a couple different books going for my nighttime reading.

I usually have a couple different books going for my nighttime reading.

The other night I was looking through my shelves, in search of books by a specific author, when I realized what a mess the bookshelves are.

The bookcases themselves are sturdy and solid, yet books are stuffed in them randomly and every which way. Books by the same author are scattered. Some books are upright so their binders can be read; others are flat on top of other books or shelves. Some are even backward.

There is no rhyme nor reason. No order.

My books are all out of order and I cannot find anything.

My books are all out of order and I cannot find anything.

My books were organized at one time. Books by a single author were together. Textbooks and reference books, which tended to be bulkier and heavier, were on the bottom shelves, and the lighter paperbacks on the top shelves.

I had inherited a few of the old books my maternal grandmother used to collect and read. I grew up reading some of them. They aren’t worth money as they are beaten up rather badly for the most part, but they are priceless to me. They were all together at one time; now they are tucked all over the place.

Mysteries, intrigue, non-fiction, human interest, historical fiction and nonfiction, religious, botanical, and horticultural books of all shapes and sizes are crammed wherever there is a nook. Dog training books are everywhere, and nothing seems to have a real “home” anymore.

Appalled at the lack of care of some of my most prized possessions, I have put rearranging the bookcases on my priority list. I look forward to seeing what I have and finding each book’s special place.

I always carry a book in my crochet basket.

I always carry a book in my crochet basket.

The messy bookcases are kind of metaphoric for my life as it has been since my husband Jim died of pancreatic cancer in December 2010.

When Jim was alive, my life was busy but ordered and somewhat predictable. The pieces may have had chips in them occasionally, but they easily had fit into place. I knew what to expect; where things were. Where the pieces belonged. Where I belonged.

Since Jim’s death, lots of the pieces of my life have been stuffed in every which way to get me by until I could rearrange things into a reorganized existence.

I really was oblivious to the disarray until recently. I now see the pieces sticking out here and there. Not quite fitting. Not in sync with the person I was before Jim died, or even with the person I am now.

And I want to rearrange them into some kind of order.

Taking each piece out of its temporary place and either finding the right fit or discarding it all together will take me awhile. But I am willing to do it, and am eager to take on the task.

Now that I see the ill-fitting pieces. Now that I can take some control over my life again.

As for the bookcases? That project will be a piece of cake!


Julie Harris

About Julie Harris

As a longtime employee of Bangor Daily News, I have served many roles over the years, but I now have a dream job as Community Editor. I live in Hermon with my four Brittany dogs: Sassy, Bullet, Thistle and Quincy, who keep me busy in various dog sports. I was widowed at age 51 when my husband, Jim, died of pancreatic cancer.