On Monday, Ursula Le Guin parted from this world. I’ll link to one of the many appreciations online, then get on with my own appreciation.
A few weeks ago, I parted with most of my remaining books. I donated a few hundred of the dusty dead-tree things. About a dozen were by Le Guin, most of them decades-old UK paperback editions.
I don’t regret having parted with the books, even after learning of Le Guin’s passing. At first I was surprised at myself. Then I reflected, and realized that there are several reasons for the lack of regret.
Those particular instances of the books are just objects. The Left Hand of Darkness is important to me because of the writing, rather than because of the particular object with print on its pages that I used to own.
I’ll be able to re-read the books (again). There are e-books, libraries, pleasing new editions, and so on. Here’s herself on re-reading.
“If a book told you something when you were fifteen, it will tell you it again when you’re fifty, though you may understand it so differently that it seems you’re reading a whole new book.”
I may be able to re-buy one of my own Le Guin books. I’m thinking of The Dispossessed: it’s one of my favorites; and my copy of it was in better shape, and had larger and more pleasing type, than most of the others. If I don’t get to it in time, that’s fine: it will mean that it has found a new reader and a new home, many years and many miles from its first home with me. It will also mean that the Friends of the Library have sold it, thus raising money for the good things they do.
Books are wonderful. Libraries are wonderful. Ursula Le Guin is, and always will be, wonderful.