I can’t explain why, and it’s strange to admit in words, but I have a close relationship with certain books. There’s about 100 of them that I’ve read at some point in my teens and early twenties. They now sit on my shelves collecting dust, and today, I have tasked myself with throwing them out (or rather, donating them).
In a cold logical sense, I don’t need them anymore. I have all of them in ebook form on my Kindle. But even if I didn’t, I already read them (several times in many cases). If I’m honest with myself, it’s clear that I will most likely never open them again. There are too many other amazing books out there that I still haven’t read.
Most of these books fall into the category of “philosophical fiction”, but are more commonly referred to as “modern classics”. They affected me more than almost any people or events (except for a few close friends and family members), and are very much responsible for the development of my “world view”.
I remember reading The Plague and struggling to breath over the realization that perhaps there is no meaning at all to suffering, to joy, to life in general. As I put it down into words now, it all sounds so dramatic. But it wasn’t dramatic. It was quiet, and it was subtle. It wore me out like a long run does, and in the same way, left me feeling happy to be alive in the most genuine way. It made me think. It made me ask questions that I will probably never find good answers to. It set me off on a lifelong journey of learning.
So how can I throw out such good old friends of mine? It’s tough, but even if I had infinite space in my apartment, these books are nothing more than an artifact of the flawed belief that somehow every moment in life is of profound importance and that it ought to be saved for all eternity. And yet, my reading of Kafka is no more momentous of an occasion than my purchase of apples and coffee at Seven Eleven earlier today.
There is no reason to hold on to stacks of old memories, when life is just short enough to enjoy the process of making new ones.