My mother has been after me for the ten years since I left college to please get my books out of her house. She was quiet for the first couple of years, really, as I lived in a teeny-tiny 1-bedroom apartment in the scenic Boston neighborhood of Allston, but as I moved further out (yeah, Roslindale!) into a bigger place and then to Connecticut, mentioning the books became part of any visit to the house.
This week, as I finally caved and told Mr. Pea after sustaining injuries at the recycling bin (don’t ask), I bought some huge bookshelves from Ikea with the partial intention of cleaning my stuff out of my parents’ house. I went there yesterday and took home a couple of boxes of books. They’ve been on an enclosed porch this past decade and have suffered with humidity and coldness, leaving many of them a foxed yellow and some of them moldy. I pitched the moldy ones–there were only a few–but the rest still smelled, you know, like musty books from storage. It didn’t help that a bunch of them I’d picked up for a quarter apiece at a library sale in 1999 or so–many were from the 1960s and 70s and musty to begin with. Today I emptied the boxes out of the trunk and onto the driveway, selecting some to pitch, some to give away, and some to keep. I also aired most of them out in the sun for a couple of hours.
They still smell musty, though, so now begins step two (once I can get out of the driveway, currently full of building tools, not for one of my projects). I got a huge trash bag from my neighbor and put the keepers inside; next, I’ll got get something to absorb the odor–cat litter or charcoal. Then I’ll dump that in, swish it all around, and let it sit a few weeks. This was what I came up with after reading lots of websites. I don’t think any of the remaining books contain mold, and I dusted them all off with a rag. They just smell. Hopefully after some quality time with cat litter, they’ll smell a lot better and take their rightful place on the shelves. My full Jane Austen collection is in there, after all, and is begging to be re-read.