At one level there is the basic problem of handing over a book. There is something about a book that seems to create a physical and rational attachment that makes it hard to let got. For me a book is a physical artefact that stands for hard work, knowledge, wisdom and learning. Why would anyone what to part with it? I bet many people still have childhood or college books that they hold onto ‘just in case’, I know I do.
At an emotional level it was even worse. Almost every book seemed to have slips of paper or cards inserted into them where my Father in Law had written notes and comments. These weren’t just books to decorate the shelves, he’d read them all, some of them many times. His personality was literally written across the collection.
Could anything make this a less of a difficult experience?
When it came to topics where I have limited interest and very little understanding, things were slightly easier. Saying goodbye to an ancient tome, in Latin or Greek became easier after a while. I had to keep reminding myself that if I didn’t take positive action, these books would end up sitting in boxes in my house. This was a good practical, no-nonsense motivator.
However, the biggest help was finding someone who loved books and was prepared to take care of them. I was fortunate to find Andrew Mitchell the owner of Capital Bookshop in Morgan Arcade, Cardiff. As it turned out my Father in Law had been a customer of Andrew’s for many years. My Father in Law had sold books to Andrew and bought many others from him.
It felt like this was an opportunity for some of these books to ‘go home’ and find their way onwards, back into the hands of new people who would love, cherish and above all learn from them. I think my Father in Law would have liked that.
If you are in Cardiff, please pop in to Capital Bookshop to see Andrew. Hopefully you’ll pick up a book my late Father in Law used to own. It will have A Whiley written inside the cover.