Saying goodbye to the old me

So doing this PhD has meant completely changing my life, mostly for the better. One thing I have been reluctant to face until now was the necessity of making space on my shelves. Books have always been an important part of my life, not just the reading them but just having them there lining the walls.

Over the last week I have finally tackled my shelves. Each time I have had to do this (usually when moving, which we have done a lot), it has been quite traumatic, but this time it was slightly easier. Each book was a reminder of something- a phase, an illness, a happy memory, but the majority of them were from my pre-PhD searching for knowledge phase, the seeking of a subject that could hold my interest for longer than a year. Now that I have one I can suddenly let these books go.

I think I got rid of two hundred or so. Fantasy escaped virtually unscathed, as did zombie novels. I culled the history books to my favourites and excised many of the books from my first degree in Ancient history. Not the primary sources of course, except for Herodotus, Seneca, PLiny and Virgil who I took great pleasure in hurling into a bag. Then I got rid of any books that I knew I would never read again and some of the remnants of my phrases. Those were the most upsetting, evidence of the strain I was under and the desperate seeking for some sort of mental stimulation.

I kept a few – ‘cancer ward’ from my Russian phase, Lyndal Roper from my witch phase, Aristocrats from my 18th century phase (and Tom Jones and Pamela of course). I got rid of half of my biographies of famous and rule breaking women, those that were dull and poorly written. I came across a stash of sewing and crafting books from the time I was really ill and desperate to learn something new but unable to deal with anything complicated. They had somehow made it through previous culls but finally getting rid of them was very cathartic.

I had a supervision yesterday, it went well I think. My supervisor is happy with my progress. He wants me to move out to look at the larger picture and the context this lady was working in. I am allowing myself today off, an easy thing when I have my son home from nursery today. Shopping, housework, childcare – Virginia Woolf had a point. Nothing got done from my to do lists but I was busy the whole day anyway!

There are some cracking series on 4oD I have been catching up on recently – I loved ‘Big Women’ a drama covering twenty five years of a feminist publishing house. I didn’t see it the first time around and whilst it had its flaws it was very refreshing.

Next time, something about my research……


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