The Plight of the Doppelgänger Library

It sounds so more tragic than it actually is. Although, it is something that has driven me bonkers for almost a year. But before I continue let me take a step back. Last June, I packed up all of my few worldly possessions and chucked them into a storage unit. Got rid of my crummy apartment and left the country. I was gone for a handful of months, bouncing around, before I returned to New York City.

The majority of my storage unit is packed primarily with books (followed by in distant second, no doubt, by my various coats). I have still to find a permanent living situation. I’ve been subletting and I will continue to sublet in furnished apartments for the next couple of months. It has been doable this past year not having all of my clothes (except for those coats–how I miss my olive green parka!), but my books…that’s a whole other story.

Now, shall we return to the plight of the doppelgänger library? I have so many books (don’t we all?) and like previously mentioned, they are boxed away, alone, in my messy storage unit with nothing to keep them company but my coats and slow cooker. I own very little furniture, only a few wine glasses remain, but boxes and boxes labelled “books.” I wish I could retrieve them. There are so many I would like to read or at least look through. I’ve been avoiding bookshops like the plague so as not to buy duplicates (I already have multiple copies of Gravity’s Rainbow, a book I have never read and the reason for which I have multiples, we might get into at a later date).

Because I’ve been moving around a lot, it is not ideal either to be schlepping extra bits and pieces along with me (I live out of one large duffel bag). I’ve tried to take books from the library but, of course, one cannot write in these or keep them for that matter. I have successfully tried not to purchase ersatz replacements, but these doppelgängers have called to me and I have called back to them. I have perused the varying copies of The Master and Margarita that exists. Different translators, different cover designs! All the possibilities, but, yet I have refrained from giving in.

Right now, I just have a small stack that follows me (no hardcovers please). When I’m through with them, these books will also find their home in my storage unit. As I continue to live a transient life (both, at times, wanted and tiresome) and resist the itch of the doppelgänger library, I think to my copy of Bulgakov’s classic that is waiting for me once I become un-unemployed and permanent. I bought it used with a striking cover of glowing eyes and its pleasant surprise of a previous owner’s personal inscription on the first page,

To John,

My favorite carpenter…


  1. I’ve lost a couple of pairs of my favorite shoes and some books since our last move (last year). I know they’re in a box somewhere, but I haven’t had time to look…

    And I’ve done the duplicate book thing, too…

  2. Oh, I’m sort of in a similar situation – D and I are moving and having to put our stuff in storage while we transition between flats. But since I’ve moved close to 12 times in 12 years, I’ve never been able to build up much of a library. Everything read is sold, barring a few choice beloveds. The Master and Margarita is a new, read-before one. I only need time to sit down and read through it again though. Chaotic lives.

    1. I was hoping not to accumulate so many. Although, I don’t move quite so often as 12 times in 12 years, I too, move quite frequently. I’ve tried to give some away, but it usually ends up just being the crap books I’ve been given to review. Good luck with your move!

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