Friday, June 20, 2008

Getting Rid of Books

I've been wanting to get new carpet for some time now, but I have to admit that the biggest reason not to is furniture shifting. It would be bad enough having to move beds, chests of drawers, couches etc, but I can't bear the thought of the bookcases. Because I'd have to take all the books out first. So instead I had the carpets cleaned, and left the bookcases where they were.

But it does mean shifting a lot of stuff, and then you start looking at it all, piled up in the spare room, and wondering why on earth you have most of it, and surely it could all be thrown out or given away? And then it gets back to the books. Do I need that many? Will I read them again? Many of them, yes, I will. All of my nonfiction is mostly for research, and I have a lot of kids' books from when I and my daughter were young. (And some from my grandfather's era.)

I also use a lot of my books in class - I put excerpts in my class readers for discussion, I read bits out loud as examples, I pass them around for students to look at (but rarely lend them, I have to admit, having learned that around 50% never come back). But still ... probably 20% of my books could go. Somewhere. To a good home. To the charity shop. To friends. But can I do it? No. I can throw out most clothes without too much angst, get rid of old knicknacks, TVs and videos that no longer work properly, even CDs that I am sick to death of.

Books? Getting rid of books is too hard. Buying more is way too easy. Something has to give. I might have to grit my teeth soon and weed out my shelves. Soon.


Lisa66 said...

I'm with you on this one, Sherryl. I never ever throw books away. I inherited some of my grandfather's books and most of my parents'. My brother asked me why I was hanging onto "that old junk" (and some of them are junk!) but I can't bear to throw a book away.

I have books in almost every room of my house. My brother doesn't even own a bookshelf!

My husband is an avid reader but he gives his books away as soon as he is done with them. I just don't get that.

I'm not a hoarder. I have no problem being ruthless with my other possessions. But books are different.

I love it when I pick a book up off my shelf and I am transported back to the time when I first read it. Or when I read a book a second or third time and find something in it that I hadn't noticed before.

Forget the new carpet. Use the money to buy another bookshelf!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Lisa. Books are companions and it is so hard to see even one leave the shelf for another home. I don't know what the solution is, but I do know that wanting to hang on to a book is not hoarding, it's stewardship.

Sherryl said...

Someone once told me that there is no such thing as too many books - it's just that you don't have enough bookshelves.
I have to admit being astounded by people who have NO books at all!
Kate - my family have long complained that I am a hoarder but you are right - having books is not hoarding, it's collecting treasure.

Anonymous said...

My Mum always used to say: "You're never alone when you have a book - you always have a good friend with you," and "You can travel the world with a good book."

I can't part with books either, and recently added a bookshelf to the lounge room - I had to move the books from the coffee table so that I could see over it. I now have to move the pile of books next to my bed so that I can vaccum.

I come from a family of readers - but I am the only one to hang onto my books.

Anonymous said...

I agree that books are very hard to throw away, but if you had to give some away, I'm sure there are people (who can't afford to buy their own) that would love the gift of a good friend or to travel the world (thanks Susan!)

I recently cleaned out my shelves and got rid of about 3% of my books. My husband was very disappointed in me!

Sherryl said...

3%! That's a goal I could aim for. I managed to put about 8 books in a box, ready to go to a good home. Maybe I should try harder...
The worst thing is travelling - I know I will need at least three good books a week, if not more, while I am away. That's why my luggage is always over-weight! Never mind clothes.

Kristi Holl said...

I had a friend years ago who hoarded books like you and I do. In her new house, on the ground floor, she had a library room built! It had a reading corner by the window, and aisles of rows and shelves of books, just like a library. She catalogued everything so she could find stuff. That has always been my "when I get rich" goal: my own in-house library!