Shipping Books Across the Sea

My aunt and uncle are moving to Ireland in a couple of months.  They’ve vacationed there for years, and lived there for a while about ten years ago.  It’s their dream to go back, this time for good.  We shall not discuss how much I will miss them – that’s subject matter for another blog entirely!  My son and I helped them yesterday – well, as much as a three-year old boy can help! – with their big yard sale.  One thing they didn’t have for sale was books.

They’d already taken virtually all of their books to a local used bookstore and sold them.  I think they each kept maybe twenty books or so.  TWENTY BOOKS.  My aunt told me that my uncle questioned her choice of a collection of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple mysteries.  She told him that within a few pages of reading it she can fall asleep in no time.  There you have it – book as sleep aid!  That’s as good a reason to keep a book as any other, I guess.

It got me thinking – what twenty books would I choose to ship across the ocean to my new home?  Could I make such a decision?

It’s funny, for someone who reads as voraciously as I do, I don’t own all that many books.  This is partly because I’ve worked in a library for fifteen years now.  I have access to any book any time I want, for the most part, so it lessens the need to own them.  I also have gotten rid of plenty of books over the years, especially when we were de-cluttering in anticipation of our son’s birth.  Recently I’ve started buying more books, just as a way to treat myself.  But I still don’t have the numbers of books one might expect based on my passion.  There are some titles that I consider favorites that I don’t even own (Case Histories by Kate Atkinson come to mind.) Even so, to whittle it down to what would fit in one box might be a challenge.

So in no particular order, here are the Twenty Books That Would Move to Another Country With Me:

  1. Pride and Prejudice– Jane Austen
  2. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
  3. The Westing Game – Ellen Raskin
  4. Collected Poems of Elizabeth Bishop
  5. Excellent Women – Barbara Pym
  6. Jane and Prudence – Barbara Pym
  7. Baking: From My Home to Yours – Dorie Greenspan (my favorite baking cookbook)
  8. Happiness is an Inside Job: Practicing for a Joyful Life – Sylvia Boorstein
  9. Pay Attention for Goodness’ Sake – Sylvia Boorstein
  10. To the Lighthouse – Virginia Woolf
  11. I Capture the Castle – Dodie Smith
  12. The Robber Bride – Margaret Atwood
  13. Animal Dreams – Barbara Kingsolver
  14. Swann – Carol Shields
  15. Beautiful Ruins – Jess Walter
  16. Americanah – Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie
  17. Plainsong – Kent Haruf
  18. Breakfast of Champions – Kurt Vonnegut
  19. The Phantom Tollbooth – Norton Juster
  20. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott

It’s a funky mix of favorites from my childhood and favorites from more recently, a couple of self-help/spirituality books (Sylvia Boorstein rocks!), and books I’d like to read again from my favorite authors.  I also chose my favorite cookbook – I love to bake, and Dorie Greenspan’s is the most comprehensive, beautiful, and easy to follow baking cookbook I’ve come across.  I guess I was going for comfort here – because if I was moving away from my homeland, I’d want comforting reads to keep me company! As I made the list, though, I had to stretch for the last few – so it turns out that I could probably get away with fifteen must-have books.

So now it’s your turn.  Do you have ten to twenty books that you’d have to take with you if you moved to another country – or fewer?  I’d love to see some of your choices.


4 thoughts on “Shipping Books Across the Sea

  1. Only twenty books? I’m not sure I could pare it down that much! I’d have to really think about that for awhile. How cool your aunt and uncle are moving to Ireland! I’ve always wanted to visit there, it seems like it is such a beautiful country. Hopefully you can go visit and stay with them 🙂


      1. Novels are really hard to trim down but poetry anthologies have survival value! My list would include the Heaney/Hughes anthologies The Rattle Bag and The School Bag. Also a really big dictionary and a good big encyclopedia (the Columbia is the one to go for).


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