Building A Library From Scratch: Catharsis

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Building A Library From Scratch: CatharsisPacking for a big move can be draining, both physically and emotionally. Especially if you’re about to leave for college, away from your parents for the first time.

In between hugs and tears, you manage to stuff your boxes with memories and old sweaters.

After two erratic days, I finished…almost.

I was sitting on the edge of my bed. Across from me, my library.

Time To Say Goodbye…

Every time I leave for vacations, choosing what books to bring is a difficult decision.

If you’re a bibliophile like me, you know the feeling. “What if I want to read Dostoyevsky when I am on the beach?

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Zigzag BookshelfNow, imagine that, times ten. You’re about to move across the country, not for a few weeks, but months.

You can’t pack everything. You need to choose, but, which ones?

My family was confused. They couldn’t understand what’s the big deal, it’s just books. Also, I’ve already read all of them, why even bring them with me?

So, I was sitting in my room alone, staring at my library.

Well, it was more of a corner. I have long exceeded the limits of the old, wooden shelves and I’ve started creating small piles of books all around.

Also, they were all mine, valuable, and too important to leave them behind. However, I had to choose now.

More Than Books

I know, it’s cliché. After all, they ARE merely books.

I know you know it… they’ve shaped our lives — more than books.

I started looking at the bottom of my library.

Picture Man bookshelves

My first bunch: Fantasy

Lord of The Rings, Riftwar Saga, Elandris, The Wheel of Time, Forgotten Realms, Harry Potter.

My brother introduced me to the genre. That’s how we bonded. When we were kids, we used to play pretend, using wooden sticks as swords, and old sheets as magic robes.

Also, when I was in school, I used Harry Potter as a way to make friends. Talking and analyzing different parts of the books between classes, creating a solid group of friend I still hang out with, years later.

Yes, these are too important. I have to bring them with me!

Moving to the second shelf… Mystery.

It, Salem’s Lot, DaVinci’s Code, The Name of the Rose.

I still remember reading Stephen King under my covers, eating salty chips, and peeking under the blanket to see if I was alone.

The thrill, the adventure. The first glimpse of evil, real sacrifice, and courage. I believe I spent more hours reading history because of Dan Brown than because of school.

You’re coming with me!

Picture traveling bag

Hanging ShelfThird Shelf: The Classics

Demons, Wuthering Heights, 1984, Atlas Shrugged.

I’d reached a point where I was able to appreciate subtext, literary nuances, and techniques. I began to understand what good writing is, besides the content.

However, these books… All written by giants of literature. They fanned the fire of my teenage years and guided me towards ideas that I would’ve never conceived on my own.

Most importantly? They planted the idea of becoming a writer myself…
OK, I have some more space… come here!

Almost out of room: Philosophy and Mathematics

Republic, Elements, On Certainty, Critique of Pure Reason.

These books led me to where I am today. They presented a world of ideation and rigid logic. They didn’t merely teach me “stuff,” they taught me how to think.

The idealism of Plato, the categorical imperatives, all these concepts nurtured my mind and transformed the way I see the world.

They were the reason I was leaving my hometown to study mathematics and perhaps add a little rock to the gigantic tower of knowledge.

“I need to study them some more!”

So many books so little time

As I was packing practically all of my books, I saw with the corner of my eyes the dark, wooden library, naked.

The shelves were empty, and they were asking, craving for some books to hold. I then realized what a fool I was…

“But of course! This is not goodbye. This is not a sad time.”

This is an opportunity. It’s the ideal way to start a delightful journey, the one of creating your library, from scratch. Catharsis.

So much space, so many books. Imagine the possibilities. To build upon what you already know.

Picture table lamp and books

I got the books out of the boxes and refilled the library. Besides some essential gear (like my good floor lamp and a couple of first editions), I didn’t pack a book-related thing.

“To new beginnings,” I said.

Leaning Wall BookshelfLooking back, it was the best decision because it wasn’t really about books.

It was about moving on and being open to new experiences and people and going after your dreams without the past holding you back. The books symbolized the safe route, the path I had already walked.

Besides, books are forever. My old collection still waits for me whenever I visit.

Also, it has stopped being “old” because, after seven years, I gain new insights after every re-read.

If you’ve never done that, you should try it!

Start from scratch. Perhaps donate your books to a charity. Start anew. It’ll be worth it!


P.S — There still was an issue though… how do you ACTUALLY start building a new library from scratch? What’s the first book I put on the shelf? Well, it was a poem collection, a gift I received from…

About the Author

George Kourakos is an ad-man by day, a writer by night. He is a mathematician with a creative side. Working full time as a copywriter, George wants to explore his creative side by writing about his favorite topics.


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