Once upon a book…

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”
Marcus Tullius Cicero


(one of many piles of accumulated cookbooks / Julie Cook / 2020)

Once upon a time, long ago and far away…long before there was a thing
known as the internet…
a time when landlines were all that we knew for communication and payphones
were the only way we could touch base with others when away from home…
it was a time when the printed word was all we had—newspapers,
magazines and books…it was a time when the printed word connected us
to what was and what could be.
Our world was intertwined and deeply entrenched with all things typeset.

And so I am finding that during this trying time of packing up my world…
I’m finding that I am slightly overwhelmed by the number of books I have
accumulated over the years.

As an art teacher with a proclivity for the Renaissance, as an
armchair historian who devours all things World War II,
as a huge fan of Winston Chruchill, as a person deeply interested in Christian symbology
and mysticism…I have amassed a small personal library.
Heck, it’s more like a decent sized library.

Books, books everywhere a book!

So during yesterday’s sorting, the task was to puruse, purge and pack cookbooks.

A love of cooking has run deep in my veins.

I had grown up watching Julia Child’s cooking shows with my mom.
Later it was Atlanta’s own Natalie Dupree.
Any and all cookig shows on PBS.

Throw in all of Mother’s Southern Living cookbooks and I learned early on
the importance of food—
an importance that reaches far beyond mere sustenance.

Food is communion.
It is a tie that binds.

My mom was not the greatest cook but she could make wonderful,
made from scratch, biscuits.
Whereas I did not inherit my mother’s biscuit magic,
I did develop however a love for the magic that rests in the
creativity of any kitchen.

Yet I can vividly remember the day I felt defeat when my mother discovered the thrill
of the cooking bag and hamburger helper.
I, on the other hand, was growing more and more fascinated by all things French,
Itlaian, fricased and sauteed.

So as I was knee deep in the cull taking place in the kitchen,
seeing so many of the older books–
my mind suddenly went racing back to a different time.

This is from a post I wrote back in 2013–it was a reflection about my life in 1986…
the year mom got sick.

“Many years ago when my mom was in ICU battling cancer, and I was a
newly married young woman, I would go each day to the ICU Waiting Room
carrying an armload of cookbooks–upwards of 8 at a time.
As I would sit for hours waiting for the three 15 minute times of visitation allowed
in a 24 hour period, I would read page per page, cover to cover of every type
of recipe and cookbook imaginable.
It was my therapy and my catharsis.
Maybe I needed to know that in the dark shadows of death,
where I had found myself in a vigil for my mom, Creativity,
which I equate with life and living, was still very much present and attainable.”

I should add that I was driving about an hour and a half each day over to Atlanta just
to sit in that ICU, only to drive that hour and a half back home each evening.
A sorrowful ritual that I kept up for 9 weeks.
It was a lonely and very difficult time…but I found an necessary diversion
as well as solace in my cookbooks.

They were cookbooks that my aunt had bought on her various trips and books I had found
while rumaging through the cooking section of every book store I could find.

So as I made the difficult decision yesterday of what books I would keep and what books
I would “release”–I found myself feeling a heavy sense of sadness—
sadness not so much over losing some long loved books, but rather sadness over the fact that
we live in a time when books are becoming obsolete.

Despite my cullig and purging, I fear our movers will be none too pleased when they
find the number of boxes full of books that I have packed up.
Boxes I can’t even begin to pick up…as in they are heavy as lead.

But some things will just have to make this journey with me.
Solace that will be there for me as I unpack in a new world come January.

The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, bring when thou comest,
and the books, especially the parchments.

2 Timothy 4:13

18 comments on “Once upon a book…

  1. bcparkison says:

    Take them…of course.

  2. K.L. Hale says:

    Julie, for the first time in many days I’m sitting and enjoying reading posts. I sold my RV and am busily preparing to move into my tiny house next week. I sat in my storage and cried looking at all my books. Cookbooks were my therapy at one time. Now, cooking for just one and sometimes two, it’s just not the same. I’m excited to buy a shelf to put books in front of me~to have my tiny office where I can immerse myself into language of any kind. I know you’ll want to keep so much and donating some is a wonderful thing too. I’m praying for you in your transitions and so glad to connect with you today. 💚

    • Well I suppose I’m happy hearing Karla, that you are setting down some roots, so to speak.
      Yes a tiny house, a smaller house all equates to less stuff.
      I once read that you never see a u-haul following a hearse. And Lord knows, I have the stuff.
      Painful as it is, shedding stuff is not easy…but I am finding it necessary.
      My problem is that I am too sentimental.
      I feel connective tissues bind me to those things I have that were once items those I loved owned.
      Those tangible links to what was…
      Good luck my friend in setting down those roots!!!

      • K.L. Hale says:

        Thank you, Julie. I’m so sentimental as well (so much I have many memories tucked in storage now). I had downsized 4 times to go to camper life. Now, I’ll stay in this forever small home base and enjoy traveling out of it to Alaska and Washington to see my kids a d grandkids when I can. I’m sending you prayers and thoughts this season. ❤️💚🙏🏻

  3. atimetoshare.me says:

    We had bookshelves in our living room, dining room, and two bedrooms in our old house. I am not a book freak, but Paul is. He had tons of them. We saved most of his, because he’s truly a hoarder and he more expensive books than I did. So now we live in a tiny house with no book shelves. I gave all my theatre books to the theatre I work with. I got rid of my playwriting, screen writing and directing books too, since I can access most of the info on the internet. Still we needed to find a place to put the rest of the books. They all found a place, including the shelves in our antique record player and some shelves that Paul assembled in his upstairs studio. Some things you just need to keep.

  4. Frank Hubeny says:

    I still find physical books valuable especially when the internet is unavailable. As physical objects they seem to hold memories better. May the move bring you blessings.

  5. When I moved from Asia to Europe, the first thing I packed were my beloved books. I’m also sad to leave a lot behind but glad they got new owners who also love reading. May you have a smooth transition and a blessed new season in your life. 🙂

  6. SLIMJIM says:

    Memory lane with those books and also thinking back of your mom’s cancer

  7. I knew you were a woman after my own heart, Cookie. Wishing you much happiness in your new home! ❤

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