The Weight of My Ink

How downsizing forced me to give away hundreds of books.

The Weight of My Ink

What’s the best way to get rid of 50 boxes of books? My wife and I recently downsized, and I needed to find a home for hundreds of books I’d accumulated over the decades, thinking someday I would read them.

But thanks to our moving manager (such a person exists!), I found out about Bill Hadlock at the Blind Industries & Services of Maryland (BISM) in Baltimore. Bill, an extremely spry 80-year-old, will not only fetch the books but box them up. They’re then sold to support the activities at BISM, which provides resources for blind and low-vision individuals.

Many of the books I gave away had yellowed pages and small print, which made them difficult for an aging reader like me. But most of them — acquired in the pre-internet, pre-Amazon era — no longer needed to be kept anyway, since any number of online resources can replace most books at reasonable prices. I hung on to quite a few, mostly ones relating to books I may still write, as well as select titles that would fit easily into the built-ins in our new home.

So, Bill and his trusty accomplice came and filled 50 boxes and then hauled them to Baltimore in two trips. I’ve written before about keeping books and giving them away (“Are My Bookcases Obsolete?”), but this was on a grander scale than I’d ever contemplated. Previously, I bagged up donation books myself, and the kind folks at Turning the Page came and got them when I’d accumulated five or more.

I ended that earlier blog by bravely concluding that if my bookcases were obsolete, then so was I. As it turns out, obsolescence isn’t so bad. For one thing, there are always new books available in many formats, including Kindle or Audible. Superstores like Borders may have expired, while Barnes & Noble has fallen on hard times, but indies like Politics and Prose prosper with a devoted clientele.

Much is made of younger generations’ aversion to reading books, but I have a niece who constantly has her nose in one (as does her husband). Book clubs continue to thrive. It’s dangerous to generalize.

Our new condo building has a sizable library in the lobby, fed by contributions from residents. On our welcome tour, we saw where we can leave books for donation. The one on offer that day was The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish. Ironically, my wife had just read it, and I’m in the process of doing so. The novel, published in 2017, is very modern, hopping back and forth from the 1660s to the early 20th century in a way that apparently appeals to contemporary readers. It’s also extremely well written and chockablock with philosophy.

A sign? Who knows? But it’s clear that however many boxes of books you leave behind, you can’t escape the weight of ink.

Darrell Delamaide, a journalist, is the author of two novels and two works of nonfiction.

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