Unpacking books and memories

Willie recently had the brilliant idea of turning our front sitting room into a little library/reading room. We weren’t using it much and it’s a lovely room, with great natural light. So he had bookshelves made which stand along two sides of the room. This meant that after many years and two house moves, we finally got to unpack all our books. Books which until now had been in boxes stacked in various parts of the house.

Not only is it a thrill to be able to see all our books again, but it’s been a “trip down memory lane” for me. The books themselves are from different periods of my life: my high school days, my student days, my first job, my second career in the computer field. There are books which belonged to times when I followed certain passions or hobbies. There are books which were given to me by family and friends. What is interesting is that even though most aren’t inscribed, I can still remember who gave them to me. So I’ve been thinking a lot about past times, and people from my past.

Those aren’t the only things jolting my memory though. Inside a lot of these books are mementos. Some flowers which I pressed in a botany book (during my first job as an ecologist), a sick note from the warden of my university residence to my lecturers explaining that I was ill with flu (!), countless postcards (which I used as bookmarks) from family and friends who were travelling in exciting places, a phone list from my first job. As I’m looking at books I last saw years ago, I keep discovering new things. The finds are all jumbled up in time – one day I find something from a couple of years ago, the next it’s from over a decade or more ago. It is like a surprise time capsule.

©2010 notesfromafrica.wordpress.com

©2010 notesfromafrica.wordpress.com

©2010 notesfromafrica.wordpress.com

[The photos for this post were inspired by a photograph which Jolene Hanson recently published]

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Categories: Random


I live on the Southern coast of South Africa, and write about the things that interest, amuse or inspire me. You can find me at https://notesfromafrica.wordpress.com and http://southerncape.wordpress.com (my photoblog)


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8 Comments on “Unpacking books and memories”

  1. December 20, 2010 at 8:35 pm #

    Wow, that’s pretty cool!

    I always find it interesting to see what people ‘saved’ – on purpose or by accident – between the pages of their books. Books are so special. I’m glad you get to enjoy looking at, and leafing through, yours again!

    • December 21, 2010 at 6:22 am #

      Yes, it is nice to have our books out of their boxes. Several times I had to look through all the boxes just to find a particular book.

      So what do you leave behind in your books?

  2. December 20, 2010 at 9:34 pm #

    Beautiful captures – love the contrasting colors.

    I can appreciate this post a lot. I feel like the next generation, who will probably be doing more reading on their Kindles, will miss out on these wonderful walks down memory lane. I do a lot of reading on airplanes, and years later find the boarding passes from my trips tucked away in books.

    Sounds like a great idea to create a library/reading room. I imagine it’s quite satisfying to see all of your books lined out.

    • December 21, 2010 at 6:26 am #

      Thanks! Love the colours too. Coincidentally, the book in the photos is the one that the flowers were pressed in.

      Am not happy though with the lack of depth to the photos. Is this because I was using a flash?

      I’ve listened to some audiobooks, but am not sure I’d want a Kindle. Don’t travel enough to make carrying real books around an issue.

      • December 21, 2010 at 9:49 am #

        The depth of field may depend on the camera used and what you were focusing on. If you’re using a DSLR, I’d try setting the f stop between 5.6 and 7. That’d get you a nice, shallow DOF. I’m still learning myself, so not sure about the flash – other than a low f stop will let in more light, which could be why you didn’t get the depth you wanted. However, I like what you did here. 🙂

      • December 21, 2010 at 10:07 am #

        Thanks for the tips!

        I’m using a Canon PowerShot SX10IS which is a Point & Shoot camera. Although it does allow you to go over to manual mode and change the aperture, ISO and go over to manual focus. Which is what I tried to do with today’s shell photos.

        Although I still don’t know what I’m doing or why – just fiddle until it “looks good”!

  3. December 21, 2010 at 1:29 am #

    We have a library in our house here in the US, which I miss a lot when we’re in Haiti. I have a Kindle since I read so much and travel a good bit, but there’s still nothing to replace reading an actual book–bought 6 of them this afternoon. Congratulations on your newly reinvented room!

    • December 21, 2010 at 6:29 am #

      Our library is really small, but we are enjoying it. It a nice room too for visitors to relax in, if they want some quiet time.

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