It’s all well and good to feel noble about getting rid of books, but the actual DOING of this is not as easy as you’d think. For starters, I’ve been carting these books around for years. Decades even. That’s a long time to hang on to something, and then suddenly cut the cord on! There has to be a REASON I packed these friggin’ things up move after move, instead of dumping them at the nearest Salvos bin, right?
Well, there is a reason or two.
Reason 1: Time – every time I moved, I didn’t have time to actually SORT and pack. Things would just get tossed back into boxes (or, in many cases, moved in the same boxes they didn’t get unpacked from in the last move or three!). This time, I’m MAKING time.
Reason 2: Sentimentality – But I have the whole collection! Well, I’m keeping a few of those, but in most cases, the collection itself is getting the toss. There’s a another side. I find it hard to get rid of books that are written or edited by friends – I have a feeling that the majority of my collection over the next ten years will evolve to contain mostly Australian authors because of this…
Reason 3: Money – This one is the kicker. The boxes and boxes of books represent a massive financial outlay over the years. In the past I’ve tried to recoup some of it on eBay, but the time it takes outweighs the money it makes. I just have to look at it and say, "Well, you’ve given me a lot of pleasure over the years, so I got my money’s worth." I think that’s fair.
Reason 4: What if…? – What if I need that for school? What if I want to read it again? What if my KIDS want to read that? What if it’s a collectable one day! This one is getting easier and easier to blow off, with Fishpond, Better World Books, eBay, the evil Amazon, and all those places that make it real easy to get a hold of things you want to read, or need for whatever purpose. There ain’t much out there I wouldn’t be able to replace pretty quickly if I needed to, and as for the collectible thing? If it’s something I love, then it’s worth keeping. There’s not point in collecting what I don’t love.
Something wrote a while back about clutter helped me get over some of this. She said something like if you think about how much it costs you to move/store these things for years and years, and the effort and annoyance of having things in the way, and cluttering up the place, it’s not worth the hassle for the one or two of a hundred things you might one day need.
There will always be books I’ll regret getting rid of, I’m sure. But there’ll ALWAYS be new books to read. Years ago, I used to re-read my books three or four times on average. I rarely re-read any old favourites anymore. I simply don’t have time. So the collection, while well used, really serves no purpose anymore. I’m never going to have the space to display it. I get more new books than I have time to read, without ever going back to old favourites. If one day I can’t afford books, or I stop reviewing and judging and no longer get some gratis, or no longer work as a teacher librarian with access to more than 15,000 books everyday, you know what? There’s still public libraries. And friends with bigger collections than me!
So while I’m sad about some of the books I’m going to get rid of (hopefully to good homes!), I’m still keeping a great many. Some I may later on dispose of as well (I’m looking at YOU Wheel of Time series!), but for this go-round, they got lucky. Maybe I’ll be stronger next time!
And if you’ve seen my bookcase at home, you’ll know how much can accumulate in just over a year, so there’s no need for me to feel sorry about it!
Bring on the Book Purge!