1. The Starless Sea: me
Did you know when you bought this for me for Christmas? Had you already decided? Or did you think…actually, I don’t want to know. I haven’t even finished reading it yet.
2. O Pioneers:
I wonder if you ever read this book. You were so excited to have one of my favorites for your very own. Do you remember? That was your first birthday after we met, when you were still in the apartment on Green Street, before we moved into the house on Hill Street.
3. By Myself: donation
Neither of us remembers ever buying or owning this book. How ironic. We watched To Have and Have Not on our second date, remember? But I don’t remember the book. I certainly never read it.
4. Anne of Green Gables: undecided
Both of us are sure this one is ours. Maybe you should just stay and our books can remain one library, combined, instead of whatever this is.
5. The Queen of the Night: me
I meant to read this. We even went to hear the author speak, do you remember? Five hundred and sixty pages, though. Yes, I am taking it with me. Of course I still plan to read it. But if you want it…I know how much it means to you. You should take it. No? Are you sure?
6. Little Fires Everywhere: donation
We bought this one together, for both of us. The book was wonderful, but that book club really was the worst, wasn’t it? I remember stumbling home that night, half-drunk on the host’s terrible cheap wine and starving from the lack of snacks, stopping at that little Thai place—Samy’s, wasn’t it? That was the best curry I’ve eaten in my entire life, and then we took a Lyft home and couldn’t keep our hands off each other in the back seat. Remember?
7. Circe: donation
Another both of us purchase. Remember when the terrible book club invited us back to read this one? And neither of us wanted to go, so we bought the book to spite them and had our own private book club? That was the night we made pizza and ended up fucking on the kitchen floor, and you stopped in the middle of going down on me to talk about the book. I never loved you more than I did in that moment.
8. Homegoing: me
Yes, I’m sure this one’s mine. It’s for my postcolonial lit class. Yes, I’m still taking classes. You used to be so proud of me for going back to school at my age.
9. The Annotated Frankenstein:
Come to think of it, you were right when we fought about this book. I am too sympathetic to the monster, abandoned by the one person who ought to have loved him.
10. Code Name Verity: you
Do you remember when you read this and handed it to me, wordless, tears streaming down your face, and I read it as fast as I possibly could and when I got to the end I turned to you and whispered “Kiss me, Hardy,” and we clung to each other and sobbed? Fuck. Now I am crying again. I don’t know if I can do this. But I know what you would say to me if things were still okay, if you weren’t leaving: “Fly the plane, Maddy.”
11. We Have Always Lived in the Castle: me
You called me an unreliable narrator once. Do you remember? At the time, I found it charming. Now I worry that you’ve ruined my second-favorite book.
12. Emily of the New Moon:
Yes, I am sure this one was yours and Anne was mine. I am sure, but I am not going to fight you anymore. I gave up fighting you when I couldn’t convince you to stay. I will take Emily and I will start over with her, and you can take Anne and find a new bosom friend. Do you remember how we used to call each other bosom friends when people said we were roommates instead of lovers? The first time you said that—that’s when I knew I loved you. Back before we moved in, when I would spend the night with you in the Green Street apartment, and the el would wake us up at night, and we were truly, madly, deeply happy. Yes, you take Anne. I don’t want her if I can’t have you.