When I set out traveling in 2005, I packed my top ten books and took them along with me. These were the books that I had come to love first as stories, and then as objects, who’s covers had grown familiar to my touch and who’s smell were as distinctive and pleasing as that of an excellent wine. It was easy to pick them out from the endless piles, and though I never read any of them while on the road, setting them on whatever nightstand happened to be by the bed I was sleeping in at the time instantly made the room feel more like home.
When I moved up to live here in NYC last year, however, I didn’t bring a single book with me. In part it was because I was moving up to work at a publishing house, and knew I’d be bringing books home by the cartload, but in part it was because while it was easy to select 10, how could I cull, say, 100 books from my collection? Once you pass your all time top favorites, and enter the murky realm of ‘really good’ books, it becomes an impossible task. But I do miss having them around. The instinctual urge to reach out and reference an Eliot poem or check a historical fact is checked each time by the realization that my books are back in Miami. It’s like phantom limb syndrome. I can feel them, picture them, but when I reach out–nothing there.