“In my first lonely months as an expat, one of the things that gave me the most comfort was books,” Expatica’s blogger writes.
In my first lonely months as an expat, one of the things that gave me the most comfort was books. Though Andrew and I gave up most of what we owned in Canada to come here, we couldn’t be without a healthy stack of books. Since settling in, that ‘healthy stack’ has become the overwhelming ‘to read’ pile I see before me today.
A voracious reader
I have always been a voracious reader, a gift I gives thank to both of my avid-reader parents. My weekly trip to the library with my mom, as a child, was as good as going to the zoo (well almost as good and definitely much more frequent.) So it’s no surprise that as an adult you can often find me with a nose stuck in a book.
I have many favourite reads, from the downright trashy — yes, I’ve been known to succumb to a trashy romance, a bottle of red wine, a box of Wittamer chocolates and a steaming hot, bubble-filled tub — to works of literary genius — my first year of university was spent in a four-credit class called the Foundation Year Program which began with ‘The Epic of Gilgamesh’ and continued with Dante, Hegel, Nietzsche and the like.
What I read really depends on my mood. I make no secret of my ‘Potter Passion’, I love a good mystery (a habit I blame on my mother) and of course, I love my travel literature and guide books.
Books are an addiction
Books, like travel, are an addiction for me. I was lucky enough to find a husband who shares both of these loves. The problem comes from our pack-rat-like tendencies. Before we moved, our library was our pride and joy. The more we read, the more we acquired. One bookcase turned into six and suddenly we were swimming in books.
When we moved from a two-bedroom apartment in Halifax to our house in the country, the movers were ready to murder us. Our entire walk-in storage room was filled with boxes, floor to ceiling, and 90% of them contained books.
When the time came to move to Belgium, we knew we would have to bid farewell to our library. We gladly sold off our furniture, said goodbye to our beloved Subaru and even sold our first house. None of this was as painful as saying goodbye to our books. We crated loads of boxes to just about every used bookstore in Halifax and still ended up sending a huge pile off to auction.
Even though we came overseas with only four trunks and six crates, the majority of what we brought with us was books. With the exception of a few reference books, (Andrew’s computer books and my photography, travel and cookbooks) all were unread. Five of the six crates were books; books were stashed in each of the trunks; and we had books in every suitcase and carry-on that came on the plane with us.
No furniture but a stack of books
So our new life in Belgium began with no furniture but a whole stack of books in the ‘to read’ pile. Even so, one of my first missions was to scope out the new and used English book situation in my new home. My Canadian books have now intermingled with their European cousins on my bookcase (which I purchased before we even had a sofa).
No matter how much I read, the pile doesn’t shrink. Bookstores are like crack houses to me — I can rarely leave without a hit. Used bookstores are even worse — half the price equals twice as many books.
I’ve read more in the past year abroad than I ever had time for at home, and still, no dent in the pile.
My return to Canada saw me hauling back more than 40 second-hand paperbacks. My mom even has a ‘wanted’ list she’s been gathering for me all year. She’ll be hauling a load to Brussels in April.
I could read for twelve hours a day, every day of the week, and I’m convinced that pile wouldn’t shrink an inch.
But I guess it could be worse than having a precarious pile of paperbacks begging for perusal … there could be no books at all.