We’re moving in a couple weeks (the first time since I was 9 years old), and I’ve been going through my library of 3000+ books, choosing the books that I could bear to part with and NOT have to pack to move. Which made me wonder…
When’s the last time you weeded out your library? Do you regularly keep it pared down to your reading essentials? Or does it blossom into something out of control the minute you turn your back, like a garden after a Spring rain?
Or do you simply not get rid of books? At all? (This would have described me for most of my life, by the way.)
And–when you DO weed out books from your collection (assuming that you do) …what do you do with them? Throw them away (gasp)? Donate them to a charity or used bookstore? SELL them to a used bookstore? Trade them on Paperback Book Swap or some other exchange program?
I have a lot of books. I am genetically predisposed to packrattiness, and I love to read and re-read books. That makes for trouble. I haven’t counted in a few years, but I have over eight hundred volumes, mostly all shelved. And Since I re-read 90% of them, I do not like getting rid of books. (My father and step-mother do not re-read books, but they never, ever get rid of them. When I say their house is overflowing with books, that is actually a literal description.)
Honestly, I would probably have more, if not for the fact that I have moved, oh, one two three four–at least nineteen times that I can count. Several times I have picked up and relocated once every six months. And every single time involved packing up and shipping or schlepping my books.
Many got lost by the wayside through the years. They were lent out and never returned, or disappeared during floods or housecleanings. Once, I had to give up most of my precious paperbacks to a yard sale before we moved to the Mainland–and even then, many of them didn’t make it. Even so, every time a move loomed before me, I would be nagged to get rid of a few books, and then it was Ballet Shoes all over again:
Terrible upsets were the result. First Gum said no fossil would leave the house except over his dead body. Then, when he’d toned down a little and realized some had to go, he would collect a few small, rather bad specimens and give them away. Then, after a day or two, during which he mooned round the house under Nana’s stern eyes and Sylvia’s rather sorry ones, a notice would suddenly appear in The times, to say that Professor Matthew Brown had given another generous gift of fossils to a museum. That meant that men would come with packing-cases and take some of the most important (which often meant the largest) fossils away. Nana would settle down with a sigh of contentment to cleaning those places where the fossils had stood, and Sylvia would comfort Gum by listening to his descriptions of where he was going to look for some more.
Only, I never gave mine away in enough numbers to really make a difference.
I always sympathized with Gum as I sulkily went through my shelves. But then I would tell myself things like, “You only read that every other year, so you should just abandon the hardcover and get a paperback! It’ll be easier to pack!”
What did I do with them? Well, sometimes when desperate for cash, I’ve sold books to Powells. Other times, I’ve given them away to individuals they would benefit. And sometimes they’d simply go off to Goodwill. I’ve considered joining PaperbackSwap, or one of its clones, but I’m just not sure how to choose one, or which is best.
But, after the wedding, I hope we’ll settle somewhere long enough that I don’t have to worry about packing them up again for a good,long while. And then I can simply enjoy accumulating them, shelving them, and occasionally, reading them.