Saturday, August 09, 2008

Our Bookshelves Define Us

We're packing...and packing...and packing. Admittedly, Kay is doing most of it, while my job seems to be cleaning out almost thirty years' worth of accumulated "stuff." My recent task was going through the loaded bookshelves in my office, sorting out what will be moved and what will be given away or discarded. When I look at the result, I realize that, in a way, my bookshelf defines me.

For over a third of a century, I was a physician in active practice. Along the way, I became more than a clinician (although that was always a very important part of my life). I wrote and edited textbooks, published over a hundred papers in professional journals, and taught all over the world. But I've been retired from that for over six years, and little by little the teaching and medical writing have diminished until now I probably teach once or twice a year. I still keep up with the field, but it's not the major part of my life it once was. In preparing for this move, I took several boxes of textbooks to the library at the medical school where I was a professor for a decade. I kept some of the most important works in my bookshelves, but now they're definitely in the minority.

Now most of the books that remain in my bookshelves are books on writing. You've seen me blog about most of them, so I won't list them again here (although it might be a subject for a future posting). The point is that now I'm a writer. That's right, I can say it. I've had one non-fiction book published, my agent is extremely optimistic about the chances of getting my first novel accepted, and quite a bit of my work has appeared in several periodicals. I'm a writer. And my bookshelves show it.

I guess our books don't totally define us--most of us don't have a huge library on how to be a dad or mother, a husband or wife, a member of the community--but they do show where our interests lie. What do your bookshelves say about you?

3 comments:

Nicole said...

That I need more bookshelves, and that I am ohsointo fiction, reading it and writing it. The genres have changed slightly, too.

It's just a matter of time, Richard, before you're published in the fiction realm. I just know it.

Jennifer L. Griffith said...

Richard,

Isn't it refreshing to "divest" stuff!?!? Stuff that used to serve a big purpose that was held onto for "just in case" only to realize those times have faded away to allow something more into your life!

And now you're moving into a new home which represents an even bigger change.

I pray that all of these transitions go smoothly with great blessings.

Jennifer L. Griffith said...

Richard,

Isn't it refreshing to "divest" stuff!?!? Stuff that used to serve a big purpose that was held onto for "just in case" only to realize those times have faded away to allow something more into your life!

And now you're moving into a new home which represents an even bigger change.

I pray that all of these transitions go smoothly with great blessings.