Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Life in Books -- by Robin

It's been an interesting experience unpacking, organizing, purging and donating...all of which has resulted from our basement construction. But, it's not limited to that. It's impacting our entire home, as I go through closet by closet in an effort to streamline our living. It's quite a task, and not one that will happen overnight.

One thing that has emerged for me, especially this past weekend, when we really made a huge dent in unloading boxes, was that I felt like I was coming full circle. It was as if my life was unfolding in front of me in ways I didn't anticipate.

As I unpacked and placed books, photos albums, etc. on shelves, it was the first time in quite a while that I stepped back to really examine what I had in my hands. I was holding my life. So many of the books (and I have an author...I adore books) resonated with me in terms of where I was at the time I bought or read it. I started having flashbacks.

Books from travel. I turned up journals I had kept as a college student living in Nice, France for a summer. What a treat to read them. And, to peruse through some of my old French dictionaries. It was a good time in my life. It was my first experience living away from home (not counting my college dorm room), and I loved the feeling of independence and the excitement of being on foreign soil. I hung out with fellow students on the topless beaches of Nice (debating if I should go for it or not). Shopped in supermarkets like a local (I was on a budget). Saw my first French film without subtitles (barely understood a word). Took trains to Italy and Paris, and aside from my studies, lived in a pretty spontaneous manner. It suited me.

Also on my shelves were a variety of self-help books, some of which related to G-d andgrief, which were bittersweet, since I had read them after losing my beloved mom. Others were about balance, finding peace, discovering your true life's purpose, etc. Things I still ponder and should probably reread.

I also have many dating/relationship books, since as the author of How to Marry a Mensch (decent person) and my work as a Love Coach for singles (, I endeavor to keep up with the writing of others in this genre.

There were also books on playwriting and plays by some of my favorite writers including Wendy Wasserstein and Charles Busch. (I aspire to write a play one day. Have started....)

Small gift books I had received from special friends over the years.

I even turned up a few books from my teen years that managed to survive my mom's efforts to clean out my childhood basement. Little Women and Little Men were two of them. I had written my name in them, and I tried to think back to when I read them and how much they meant to me. Little Men was a chunky book, but it was a soft paperback, and one whose pages were pliable and worn. I envisioned being perched on my cushy pink backrest on my bed in my small bedroom in the home where I grew up, reading into the night, as I often liked to do.

It's funny how since then, I rarely read fiction. Since becoming an author, my focus has been non-fiction, inspirational books. Yet, as a child, I used to write and illustrate kids books (not for publication...just fun). One title was The First Mouse to Land on the Moon. I still have it, and have shared it with my son, and even his kindergarten class last year when they invited me in talk about my experiences writing how-to books, since the children were working on their own.

Recently, the mom of a student in my son's first grade class, phoned to ask if I'd speak with her son. At age six, he adores writing and wants to get his stories published and on the shelf in a library. I saw myself in him. And, I was more than glad to inspire him to continue writing, but to focus on pursuing his passion, and that he could turn his attention to publication over time. The mom was happy that I was able to speak with him from an author perspective. She didn't want him to dwell on the finished product, but to keep on loving to create stories.

I wouldn't describe myself as a book worm. I'm not particularly an avid reader. I fancy myself more as a collector. I like the look and feel of books. I'll never get a just wouldn't be the same for me....though I know some embrace it.

Of late, many of the newer books on my shelves relate to mothering and health. Everything from Dr. Spock to Dr. Christiane Northrup (who writes about women's health). Whether it be parenting or perimenopause, both can be complex subjects, and these are books I find myself perusing with greater frequency.

I'm grateful our basement construction has led me to this place. It's been a revealing trip down literary memory lane. Kinda like This is Your Books. Wonder what the next chapter will hold??

PS -- Wanted to give a shout out to Macaroni Kid. It is a free weekly e-newsletter I just learned of that gives you the scoop on local events for kids and families. Check it out at, and if it's not yet in your town, find out how to launch one.

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