Letting go and making room - saying goodbye to my books (and maybe my journals)

Letting go and making room – saying goodbye to my books (and maybe my journals)

by Lindsay on August 2, 2012

in Environment, Inspiration, Personal Growth

Buh-bye books!

Two weeks ago I got an email from the wonderful shining light that is Patti Foy from Lightspirited Being. Patti and I share a love of journals, and she passed on this article about the Power of Letting Go by blogger Leoni Dawson. Leoni recently gave most of her books away. And she burned her journals. As a fellow book & journal lover, Leoni’s actions both scared the living bejeezus out of me and inspired me.

If you come to my home, you’ll notice I love books. But now I have a Kindle and open a “real” book very little. Yes, I’ve become one of those people. And no matter how much I love the books that sit on my bookshelves, the fact is…they’re just sitting there. Collecting dust. And that’s not what I want for those books. I want their spines to be cracked open, their words poured into someone’s mind and heart.

So I did what I previously would’ve thought unthinkable: I let (most of) my books go. I kept my favorites and all of the Spirituality-focused books. Couldn’t let those ones go! I am donating some to the Toronto Public Library and giving the rest to a a women’s shelter. Someone else will read them. Maybe someone else will fall in love with them. Maybe they’ll be given as a gift or help another person escape into another world for a little while. Whatever it is, I know they for sure won’t be collecting dust on my shelf. It was bittersweet saying goodbye to the books. More sweet than bitter, though. And damn it felt good to open up space in my home for other things.

Parting with memories 

My journals have been a reflection of my inner thoughts, struggles and triumphs for years. And of course, my “brilliant” ideas. I hang on to these journals, they contain memories my mind seems to have forgotten. I even go back and re-read them once in a blue moon.

If you have been reading The Daily Awe for a while, you might remember The Story of the Ruined Journal and the Lesson Behind It (Because There’s Always a Lesson). Maybe that was my first signal to let my journals go.

After reading Patti’s email and Leoni’s blog post I got to thinking, “Is the content in these journals going to improve my life in any way? Is there something in there I would mind people reading if I die?” Oh god. I don’t want people reading those journals, ever.  It’s just….saying goodbye. Can I do it? Can I really burn the past and leave it all behind? I have a bad enough memory as it is. Without my journals, I fear so many memories will be erased.

But I know better. What is important lives in my heart. I might not ‘remember’ certain details until I read about them in a journal of days gone by, but is that really important? I don’t know. Help decide the fate of my journals, will ya?

What are you hanging on to that you could let go of? And what do you think I should do – hang on to my journals for a little while longer or just strike the match and let ’em burn? 

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{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael August 2, 2012 at 7:19 am

Significant remodeling always requires a significant amount of demolition.

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Lindsay August 2, 2012 at 10:27 pm

So very true!

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Mary August 12, 2012 at 2:38 pm

Hi Lindsey!
I too am having difficulty with this idea of letting go of books and journals. Sounds painful, like letting go of old friends. While I also have a Kindle, I still love the moment just before opening a book when you pause and study the artwork on the cover. I love the feel and heft of a book and the whisper of the pages between my fingers. That said, I have about 2000 books and am thinking of getting rid of quite a few. (again.) Purging to the library or just randomly leaving them places for others to discover appeals to me. As for the journals, I wouldn’t want anyone to read them, but sometimes it’s fun to see where you’ve been on your journey even if it sounds like the same place over and over. . . How and where would you burn them? Logistically speaking I haven’t figured that out yet. If you figure it out, please write about the outcome and the feeling of freedom upon letting go of old thoughts both good and bad. I am certain when it is time to let go, I will know.
Mary

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Dylan Lin Calista August 2, 2012 at 7:57 am

I find it PAINFUL to part with my books, lol.

Well, that’s because I love books. And since we have fairly limited space in our apartment, I avoid buying them to spare myself from the inevitable heartache when I have to give them away. Thus explains why I buy ebooks instead but somehow it’s just not the same – I savor the experience of opening crisp new pages, the smell of print and the light scent of vanilla from my favorite bookstore…it’s part of my ‘reading experience’.

There are snippets of stuff that I keep – but most of my journals are now documented on web pages in different places…(which reminds me I have to start deleting some.) I look back at some of these writings and they somehow remind me of where I am today, where there is progress.

But, just the same, it is bittersweet – I am reminded of the hard times, too. I did burn my old journals because a lot of them contained unhappy memories and pages where I have documented my struggles and what have yous. Dark times, they were and I felt like I needed to let them die.

I still have the little notes my ex used to leave me when she would leave our home early mornings for work and stuff. She used to startle me whenever she’d kiss me goodbye as I slept. That kind of didn’t work well since I always seemed to get so startled to the point where I’d have heart palpitations lol.

So she started writing little notes and letters that she’d leave at my bed side or at the dining table so I’d see when I went downstairs for breakfast.

I still keep her ‘I love you notes in my wallet’. – I used to take them out and just stare because towards the end, I had to move (immigrate) for work. Her photo, I carried with me in my wallet. Her necklace, a permanent accessory around my neck…her notes, I keep safely with me, too.

And while I could part with them, I don’t think / know if I’m ready to just yet.

If you aren’t ready to part with anything. Don’t. The right time will reveal itself.

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Lindsay August 2, 2012 at 10:29 pm

I think we always know when we’re ready to say goodbye to something. And if you’re not ready to let go of those notes or tangible things that your ex gave you or that remind you of her, then it’s just not time. <3 No harm in that, I don't think.

I decided to keep my journals. The idea of throwing them away or burning them gave me those heart palpitations you speak of. So, they'll be hanging around in shoe boxes for a while (or years) more!

You are right about ebooks not being the same as a "real" book. There is so much pleasure in cracking open a book, feeling the crisp pages and the smell of the ink "hot off the press".

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Dylan Lin Calista August 8, 2012 at 4:14 am

Knock, knock!

I’ve chosen your blog for the Versatile Blogger Award :)

http://www.lifegasmic.com/life/the-versatile-blogger-award/

Cheers!

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Lindsay August 8, 2012 at 8:08 pm

WOW thanks so much Dylan!!! I’ve never been nominated for any blogger awards before – you made my day! <3

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Julie | A Clear Sign August 2, 2012 at 8:05 am

I gave away boxes and boxes of books to the public library on numerous occasions and still I have an entire closetful! And that’s just MY books – Fred has about 5 bookcases worth of books…so many that I’ve run out of bookshelf space to store them. They pile up on floors, tables, and all over my car. It’s ridiculous.

I tend to keep my calendars, because they have daily notes on what I did that day including the business stuff, which I frequently have to reference. I’ve found no more compact way to “manage” all the clutter. I’ve been told that hanging on to them means that I’m energetically hanging on to the (not always so wonderful) past, and that I would free myself to move on if I got rid of them. Not so sure. Like your journals – I think I’d hang on to them and give specific instructions in your will or with a good friend that they should be burned upon your death OR given to your kid. It’s funny how something that doesn’t even mean that much to us can mean a whole lot to them. And if you’re dead, well – you won’t care anymore!

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Lindsay August 2, 2012 at 10:27 pm

I’m hanging on to the journals. I just can’t part with ’em. How many years of calendars do you have saved? I think calendars would be so much fun to look back on. You can say “On this date in 1998 I was _________.” I think about keeping a day journal every once in a while. I did that for a year and I love going back and seeing what I did on such and such a date. Maybe I need a journal like that. LOL Oh, me and my journals. I guess thinking I could ever say goodbye to them wasn’t very well thought out on my part!

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Kathleen August 3, 2012 at 10:03 am

I used to keep my calendars, but when it got to the point that I couldn’t remember who the people were that I’d met up with for lunch or whatever, it was time to ditch them!

I have a pile of journals that I need to think about getting rid of in a fireplace somewhere. They document so many of the sad and excruciating parts of my marriage–and of who I was at that time. Part of me thinks it would be good for my sons to see what I went through to try to keep our family together, but my rational self knows that that would not be good for them. Some I would keep–records of my sons’ early days–but many I know I need to eliminate from my life for both posterity’s and energy’s sake. Thanks for bringing up this topic, because it’s something I need to deal with.

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Lindsay August 3, 2012 at 1:41 pm

Hi Kathleen

You are a good writer. :) I lol’d at knowing it was time to pitch the calendars when you forgot who you had lunches with! Days of yore!

I think your sons might appreciate you hanging on to the journals with memories of when they were little. I often wonder if I have a little boy if he’ll want to read those things. I know girls can be more sentimental/interested in that stuff. But I would imagine boys might like to read/hear it, too.

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AJ | OpenPsychic August 2, 2012 at 8:56 am

I am one of those people too :)

I love using my Kindle. Even though books are very pretty to have on a book shelf, I like minimalism. It does feel good to clean it up :)

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Lindsay August 2, 2012 at 10:25 pm

Ah yes, minimalism sure does feel good! I love opening up space and starting fresh. Or having a nice, big room or space to relax and/or work in!

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Anne August 2, 2012 at 9:20 am

I’ve kept a journal all my life. I buy blank books regularly, just in case I’ve got a side shoot idea that needs its own book. (yep. Really.) I burn them when I need to – once I get those intangibles on the page, I feel they can go their own way or give me clearer perspective. Sometimes that means ‘no more’ and it gets torched/torn up/’sharpie’d.

Once that’s done I figure what needs to be remembered will be- because an elephant never forgets.

(those shelves are clean so you can fill them with children’s books…)

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Lindsay August 2, 2012 at 10:25 pm

You sound like me – a blank notebook is never far from reach. I am not only a writer, but a list maker. I make lists of article ideas, ideas of things I want to do, life lists and even what to buy at the grocery store. I can’t imagine my life without a blank notebook and so, I shall keep mine!

How does it feel when you torch and/or Sharpie a notebook? I’m curious!

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Ricardo August 2, 2012 at 9:22 am

Oh Lindsay, that makes so much sense to me!!! It’s aggravating to see that the era of cybernetics hasn’t really interrupted our dependency on paper, and thus, the gruesome destruction of forests, trees, and ecosystems around the world. I used to feel guilty because, by the time I am done with a book, its condition would make it useless for the next reader! But your blog is reassuring:-) Time for an I-pad, reading new books online… even though I keep bringing home those printed treasures that the old ladies in the building leave at the lobby for the taker;-) Solo looks lovely and intellectual in that caption.

Suggestion: Scan your journals, then strike the match. Just like ancient art is preserved (even tri-dimensionally), you might want to preserve a physical resemblance of your memoirs. We’re made of flesh; I always resented my mom for not preserving my first note book:-(

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Lindsay August 2, 2012 at 10:24 pm

I like the idea of preserving something similar to memoirs – especially for this child to read when I’m long gone! Great idea. I’ve decided to keep my journals (for now) because I’m struggling with the idea of saying goodbye to them! The books weren’t nearly as hard to say goodbye to for some reason, even though they’ve gone with me across the country and some of them have even crossed the border!

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Ricardo August 2, 2012 at 10:31 pm

Linds, you will be will the little one until he/she gets old, older, and bring over more little ones, I am persuaded;-) Regarding books, they have shared our history for thousands of years, the written word has been the most honourable way to preserve our memories as individuals, families, communities, and species. They deserve some respect I guess. It becomes a personal dilemma when what is at stake are our individual feelings, perceptions, recollection of events… But in the face of massive extinctions, it is a collective moral dilemma to change paradigms towards electronic records. Which one will be next, akashic, mentalist, records to which anybody will be able to tap on??

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Ricardo August 2, 2012 at 10:25 pm

… Thought about it a bit more. Don’t burn the books; somehow in the collective unconscious books burning relate to the infamous Kristallnacht. Put them out for paper recycling;-) much more of a noble use to them.

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Melissa August 2, 2012 at 12:59 pm

I can part with most of my books. Not my spirituality ones or my absolute favorite books. But I would have no problems with the others that are collecting dust!

My journals..? I don’t know. I have literally burned a few of my journals before. I did it when I was going through one of the most rough times of my life. I was being abused, badly. I was using my journal as a coping mechanism. If I could get my feelings out onto the paper, then I could somehow, still make it through the day. In times of utter frustration and release, I burned a few. I let go of those awful experiences and memories. I made it to where I could *not* go back and read them. So for me, in the long run, it was good, cleansing. In the moment, it was not wonderful, but it was a release. I had to literally work through the act of destroying my journals.

Now that I am in a better place in life, I don’t know if I can destroy my journals. I consider every moment a blessing now. Every happy memory is precious to me. That’s what I journal about now…and considering my past, it’s something I feel (at this moment) that I really need to just hold on to.

Great topic!

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Lindsay August 2, 2012 at 10:22 pm

Destroying the old journals makes complete sense to me, Melissa! They were symbolic of a time that you were really suffering and so the burning/saying goodbye was a way of parting with that time in your life.

I decided to keep my journals. Even the ones that remind me of bad times, for now. Something in me is saying “You’ll regret it!” and so, I’m listening.

Thanks for sharing your experience with me. It helped me make up my own mind!

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Katie August 2, 2012 at 1:26 pm

I still haven’t made the switch to an e-reader, so haven’t often contemplated dismantling my book collection, but the concept of destroying my journals has never crossed my mind. Now that you mention it though, I am mortified at the thought of others reading the content at some point.

You’ve given me something to think about, as it does seem like an inspired way of symbolically letting go of the past. I do find my journals to be integral in those frequent moments when I believe I am making no progress, and feel like I’ve stagnated and am going no where. When I go back over them I am astounded by the (internal) progress I have made. In those moments they inspire me to press on and they nourish my faith in the powers that be.

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Lindsay August 2, 2012 at 10:21 pm

Hi Katie!

I was one of those people who SWORE I’d never have a Kindle. But when I got one as a present for my 30th birthday, I fell in love with it, much to my own chagrin!

You really brought up a good point for me (and one that helped me make my decision to KEEP the journals), and that is that they remind us of the progress we’ve made over the years. It’s good to go back and look/read where we were and then it reminds us that we HAVE in fact come a long way, even if we don’t feel like we have. Thank you for that.

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Jennifer Flint Designs August 2, 2012 at 1:51 pm

I agree with the idea of perhaps scanning your journals in a way that would be searchable. I’ve been keeping my journals in electronic format for quite some time now – nothing too in-depth, just a sentence or two to sort of encapsulate what I did that day. I’m quite religious about it, in fact – I never miss a day.

I find this helpful in recalling when I did or bought or visited something at a future date, or when anything important happened, since my memory for such things is far from sterling. And it’s easy to find what I’m looking for just by using a search function!

I’ve also been cleaning out books recently, even the spiritual ones – initially to make more room for my tea things, but lately I’ve been putting some of those away too. Since I can be an overly avid cleaner-outer, as this is a coping mechanism for me when I’m stressed, I’ve learned to just box up the stuff and put it in the attic for a few weeks or months and try living without it.

If I miss something, I go back and get it. If I don’t, then after a while I feel more confident letting it go. And in the meantime my life and workspace are still more simplified. It works for me. :)

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Lindsay August 2, 2012 at 10:20 pm

Hi Jennifer!

I LOVE the idea of the electronic journal and just even writing a sentence or two to encapsulate each day. Now that is such a cool idea! Mind if I steal it? I might even do it in a paper journal, just because there’s something about the act of actually writing (even in this day and age!) that I so love and enjoy.

What sort of tea things do you collect? I’d love to see photos! I am a tea lover! I also love the idea of storing things away for a few months and if I miss them, just get them out of the box!

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Deana August 2, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Hi Lindsey,

You started journaling for a reason;my vote is NO don’t burn them. So what if they take up a wee bit of room! You’ll find the space for them!

Good luck with your decision,

Deana

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Lindsay August 2, 2012 at 10:18 pm

I’ve decided to take your advice and NOT burn them. They shall remain unscathed in my home! I just…couldn’t do it.

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wendy August 2, 2012 at 3:30 pm

Hello L,

I have done the old burning of the books, the photos, the cleaning out cupboards and throwing away the worn out and outworn. I regret throwing away the photos and words…I would hang on to your journals, they are snippets of you, past yes but also a measure of your growth. There are some gems of wisdom in them- some proverbial light bulb moments.

I will always be a tactile soul and and will always love to hold a book in my hands, the woody inky smell and the turning of a crisp page under my touch….delish! Kindle be gone! I am keeping my books, my memories, now and forever.

Love your words!

Wendy xxx

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Lindsay August 2, 2012 at 10:18 pm

Hi Wendy!

I’ve decided to keep the journals (for now). I love, love, LOVE cleaning stuff out: cupboards, closets, etc…I usually have no trouble at all pitching stuff I no longer use or donating it. But these journals, for whatever reason, I just can’t seem to part with.

Ahhhh you are so right about the smells and feel of a book. You must be a writer, the way you described it. :)

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LunaJune August 2, 2012 at 4:01 pm

I’ve only burnt one journal but I’m thinking i might just go pull out all of them, remove all the poetry that I’d miss then burn them all as I have let go of all of my yesterdays.. and even had an amazing healing from the man who broke my heart 25 years ago, closure like I could never have expected and seeing as it was that heartache that filled soo many of those journals it would be another closure for sure. As for my books.. I love them… and pick them up regularly to reread and remember.. but for sure if I moved over seas I would take all my faves and donate the rest.

thanks for the inspiration daily

the awe

the wonder

the sharing :~)

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Lindsay August 2, 2012 at 10:17 pm

Thank you for your beautiful words, Luna! You even write your comments like a poet. You’re a naturally gifted writer!

I’m pretty sure I’ve decided to hang on to my journals. I’m having a hard time imagining saying goodbye to them for good.

My books had traveled with me all over Canada and into several homes. It was hard to say goodbye but alas, I did!

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Armida August 2, 2012 at 7:44 pm

Let ’em Go! If you haven’t wondered what’s in those journals in the last six months you won’t wonder six months from now. Just continue to simplify your past and it will certainly simplify your future! Each time I get rid of something I’ve treasured I learn I am happy for it’s new future.

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Lindsay August 2, 2012 at 10:16 pm

Welp, I decided to keep them (for now). I just…can’t let go of ’em for some reason! I guess I’m just not ready!

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Lisa | Practically Intuitive August 2, 2012 at 9:14 pm

Seriously, I could give away all my books but NEVER my journals. I can never replicate it, ever. I’m my own best subject as I study what makes people tick and I’ve got 40 years of journal “research” going!

(Most of it is me whining, true.)

Nope, you can take everything else (except my autographed picture of my beloved Cookie) but I will never part with my journals!

(I’d say I feel quote strongly about it!)

Good luck deciding what to do with yours. Lots of wonderful events and memories to come with the wee one! <3

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Lindsay August 2, 2012 at 10:15 pm

I posted this on your site, too (thanks for the shout-out, by the way!). I’ve decided to KEEP them! I couldn’t even engage in the act of trying to throw one away. I knew in that moment this evening that these journals aren’t going ANYWHERE! I can’t believe you kept all of yours since you were 10…I’m jealous. I’d love to see what 10 year old Lindsay had to say (I’ve been journaling since I was that young, too!).

You should post some snippets you’ve learned over the years from your journals! Or little quips from little Lisa, teenage Lisa, etc…that’d be awesome!

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Susan S. August 2, 2012 at 10:12 pm

I got a Kindle a few years back when they were new, but I still much prefer to hold a book. As for getting rid of books, I did a huge purge this past winter. But the books I hang onto are my spiritual ones. The ones that have taught me so much over the past year and a half. Perhaps in a decade or two, some of these can go. But, for now, I have the room for them. As for journals, I have been refering back to ones I have kept for about the past decade. There again, if the issue is only space, I am loving using The Journal on my computer (http://www.davidrm.com/). Check it out.

As for what to do with your journals, only you can decide that one. Too personal. What I’ve been letting go of lately in my life are relationships that don’t serve me well any longer. Easier to breathe now!

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Anni August 3, 2012 at 3:02 am

Hiya Lindsay,

Great timing on this topic – I’m thinking of getting rid of some old journals, mostly the ones before I met my Guides. I don’t have a way to create a fire or anything so the next best thing is to shred, I guess! Its so tedious tho. I do wish there was a way to scan them and throw them out (new invention, anybody?) I used to have a lot of books also but sold or donated them, and vowed never to buy unless the library doesn’t have it. I love the feel of paper and holding the book in my hand too but every time I have to move or something, I just get mad at myself for all this heavy stuff to pack :p

Glad you decided to keep your journals – they’re precious I agree :)

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Lindsay August 3, 2012 at 1:42 pm

I don’t have a way to create a fire, either! Good point! I suppose we could drive out to the woods somewhere and do it!

I know you’re a fellow journal lover. And there’s something about those new, fresh pages that spring forth such hope. You’re right about them being a pain in the ass for moving, though! 😉

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Heather August 3, 2012 at 1:26 pm

I just got rid of a bunch of my books this morning. Unfortunately what I’m known for is donating, throwing away or some how losing things then later regretting it. I’m a minimalist and don’t like lots of stuff. When I first read this post I just couldn’t picture you ever getting rid of your journals…

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Lindsay August 3, 2012 at 1:39 pm

This probably comes as no surprise to you, but I’m also known for purging things I later regret getting rid of. It’s the Virgo in us, we can’t help it!

And you’re right – the journals are staying.

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D'Arci Redditt August 5, 2012 at 12:58 am

Lindsay,

I have journals starting at the age of 13 years old up until now (mid 30s). I have often debated burning some of my journals or pages of them. I agonized over the decision. I could never do it. I knew that if something ever happened to me–my family, friends, etc., could see the words of deepest emotions scattered about the pieces of paper. I decided, in the end, I had to be comfortable with my past, because it has made me who I am today. It’s not always easy, I admit.

Most recently, I was faced with this decision in a way I never hope no one has to go through. I live in Colorado where the Waldo Canyon fire happened. I was put on pre-evacuation notice on a Tuesday. I could never sleep at night, because I didn’t know if I was going to get evacuated in the middle of the night knowing the fire was right over the Rampart Range–outside my back door. By Thursday, at noon, 3,000 people in my town were being evacuated.

My point, I discovered the items I packed in my Toyota Camry (all the room I had) included: my journals, a few important spiritual books, pictures, clothes, music, toiletries, and knick-knacks from my childhood. Also, my cat Chica came, too. :)

Thankfully, I was able to return home 4 days later, and the firefighters made this happen (along with many others).

So, I agree…keep the journals. It’s nice to have those visual memories, good and bad.

D’Arci

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Lindsay August 6, 2012 at 2:24 pm

D’Arci! I didn’t realize you were affected by the Colorado fires. Oh my goodness! I guess an experience like that really puts things into perspective, doesn’t it? And now you know what you’d take along with you if you could only take a few things

Btw – I LOVE your cat’s name! Chica! They don’t get much cuter than that. :)

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D'Arci Redditt August 7, 2012 at 12:36 am

Lindsay,

It was quite the experience being affected by the wildfire. As the days continued to grow, I had a thought one day, “Why did I write this into my chart? Why did the people who lost homes writes this into their charts?” It has been the biggest wildfire (now) in Colorado history. The terror of watching the smoke plume grow day by day is a sickening feeling that will never leave me. Nonetheless, I have grown from the experience and gave help others through it now.

A natural disaster does put things into perspective, I agree.

Chica got her name from another cat my sister and I had named, Little Girl.

D’Arci

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Michael June 28, 2013 at 8:27 am

SPAM!

Scold your Asimet… :)

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Lindsay July 5, 2013 at 4:22 pm

lol, yep!

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Gayle October 2, 2013 at 8:33 am

I happened to stumble on your blog page by accident and this article or blog post (whatever) caught my eye. I am veracious book reader and am totally in love with my books, so when I read what you and your friend did, I was horrified at first, then impressed. I have a kindle as well and it’s useful for many things, not just books, but I have to admit, I will never get rid of by beloved books. I re-read them so often that I have literally worn some out and had to replace them, so I could re-read them some more. My books are my “safe place”, my down time and my best friends (next to my hubby), and will never gather dust and just sit on the shelf. My kindle is great for when going away for weekends because that way, if I finish a book, I simply click on the next one or download a new one. Kindles make a readers life easier with travel for sure, but can never replace a real book, but that’s just me.

I admire you for taking the responsibility for your books and giving them away so others can befit from your gift and love of books. I wish I had the heart or guts, to do that too sometimes.

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