Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday Salon: On Letting Books Go

This past week has been a lovely week for reading. I read and reviewed King Solomon's Mines (review), The Hunger Games (review), and The Evil Genius (review). Either late last night or early this morning (there is no clock in my bedroom), I finished reading The Eyes of the Dragon, a well written fairy tale by Stephen King; I'll review it later today.

I also finished taking my weeded out books to the used bookstore, finally. I have taken books there two and three times a week for several weeks now, and have weeded my library down to, if not a tenth, then certainly a twentieth of it's former glory. Thousands of books have left. I've received so many hundreds of dollars in trade you fellow bibliophiles would be sick if you knew the amount, and about half those hundreds in cash that came in very handy for various things. I still have a few boxes that need to be donated: old well worn copies or library rejects that the bookstore won't take. I've been taking a crate or two of those with me as I go, and putting them in the "free books" bin as well. The longer they sit in the house, the more tempted I am. I've pulled out a few, replaced a few, pulled out a few more.

We have to downsize. It's of the utmost importance on so many levels, and it's not just books that are being purged. Books are just the hardest to let go of for me.

I (and my husband too) tended to collect books as much for the fact that they were books as for the chance that I might eventually read them. The books I purged were books that had been in my home at least two years and that I had never made the slightest move toward reading. Thousands.

Yes, I purged a lot that I had already read and knew that I wouldn't be in danger of suddenly wanting to reread and not having, or classics that I can get for free from Project Gutenberg or on my Kindle. That was how I started.

But so many were collected just because I collected. Because books are my "thing". Because I love the way a book looks, the dust jacket, the pages, the font, the illustrations.

Oh it has been hard. Sometimes painful. But freeing too. When I took those first boxes, when I realized that I didn't have to actually own the book to still love it, when I realized that I was actually sharing my love of books with others this way, it was as if walls came down.

We still have hundreds, and always will. As long as I have enough walls for shelves, there will be books, but in moderation now. I'll keep the gems, the special ones, the comfort-food books--the wheat of my books, if you will--and I'll let the chaff go. I don't have to actually own a book to love it. I can share it with someone else, and have only the memory of it, and that's just a good. It's been an amazing lesson.

~the Sunday Salon~


  1. Good for you. I'm purging, too, but I'm do so because I'm getting older and I don't want so much clutter. Good for you. I know it's painful but it is worth it.

    My Sunday Salon:

  2. Ohhhh, I loved Eyes of the Dragon. Its been years since I read it, but I remember that I really enjoyed it.

    Getting rid of books is so hard! My mom can't even do it really. We're both really bad about it :/

  3. "keeping the wheat" of your books is a brilliant plan (well, a plan in action, it sounds like!). Good point about sharing your love of books - and of a particular book - when you let it go.

  4. Thanks for encouragement, all! It is so nice to have less "stuff", even though it means letting go of books!

  5. It sounds like you're doing a great job purging. I don't have as many books as you but sometimes I feel the need to purge myself. I gave myself a rule that I can't buy a new book unless I've read it before and loved it, or my library doesn't have it. It helps.

    Sharing your books with others is a great idea.

  6. On the blog, Bookstore People, I saw an entry that talked about framing book jackets. Sometimes just looking at the jacket is all that is needed to bring the love of that book and all that it meant back to you. The books that you won't reread for various reasons but that you love, would be perfect for framing. All of the feelings and no need to store on your bookshelves!! I know that the next time I go to a used book sale or used bookstore, I will be looking at covers for the purpose of framing them for my book nook.

  7. +JMJ+

    Ooooh--the last time I did a huge purge was when my family had to move out of our big home (built to have enough room for my grandparents' six children) into a small condominium. It was all juvenile series books--Sweet Valley Kids, Sweet Valley Twins, Unicorn Club, Sweet Valley High, Baby-sitters Club, Goosebumps, Fear Street, and Nancy Drew--which somehow made them easier to let go of. And they were all donated to a poor rural library, which made it a good deed, despite the questionable quality of the material for the students (LOL!). In the end, I was glad to have been so ruthless. =)

  8. Dee, that's a great idea!

    I remember just how hard it was, not so many years ago, to let go of my Trixie Beldon and Nancy Drew books. Of course, by then, they were so well worn the library wasn't able to use many of them. :P

    Thanks for stopping by Dee, Vassily and JMJ!

  9. I try to keep only books that I want to read again, that I can't get at the library. It's still too many, but I have succeeded in cutting it down some.

  10. I was looking today, Jean, and still feel like I also have more books that I should, but. . . Like you, I've purged down as far as I can to the ones I know I'll read again or can't get anywhere else. Oh the perils of being a bibliophile! :P