Conversation with a friend yesterday about culling books got me wondering how many I actually own right now. I generally trade in about half the books I buy in a year, plus older books I’ve outgrown, but apparently right now I have 614 books, not counting the five in my “to read” pile.

And I’m fine with this. Yes, it’s a pain to pack whenever I move apartments, but the books I own are all either great reads or reminders of important moments in my life (or both). And considering that my parents’ house is floor-to-ceiling books from the basement to the attic, I think I’ve always understood “home” to mean being surrounded by well-loved books, lovingly arranged.

I still remember the discomfort I felt, seeing the homes of two of my professors in the MFA program and realizing that they each had one scant shelf of books. These were writers who also taught literature. Even if they had books in their offices, it felt like this lack in their homes was a symptom of what was fundamentally wrong with the MFA program. How could they not love books and want to surround themselves with the things they loved?


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