My mother has gobs of books. Shelves and shelves, enough to fill a full room, plus.

Some she purchased out of want, some she had to have, some she just acquired, left here or there by someone else and picked up by her; taken in rather than thrown out.

There are the pieces of classic literature that no home collection is complete without-- Homer, Beowulf, as well as Dickens, and Twain. Pieces from her youth-- Kerouac, Burroughs. Loads of books from my own childhood-- Silverstein, Suess, and Blume.

Volumes and volumes of scholarly journals, books written by colleagues and idols. Books about ancient mysteries, solved; How to manuals and theories galore. Biographies, and true stories, scientific details crammed on large pages with tiny print.

The shelf by the window holds her favorites, the poems that I did not know she read until much later in our lives. The heartbroken, the beat, the naturalist. The latter being her favorite; she identifies.

She owns books that I did not know existed. Collections and assorted ramblings, first-print editions, only-print editions. Some books would look better behind glass, in libraries or museums. Fragile books receive plastic covers or special places on designated shelves.

She has never thrown a book away, nor lost one.

There are only two books missing: hers, and her daughter's. Both unwritten.

When she reminds me that I really should finish mine, I become a constant reminder that hers is not finished either. Two writers challenging each other to be first, neither really wanting the blue ribbon.

Your book would be a hit, she says. Everyone identifies with love and thunderstorms. Nobody reads poetry about science.

Which is why you should write it.