by Raelene Gorlinsky
Last weekend my son helped me take 8 large boxes and 18 bags of books to the library, to donate to the semi-annual book sale fundraiser. Well over 700 books! And I've already got another three large bags filled, and will have more in the next few weeks.
Yes, I am purging my personal book collection. There are 8 bookcases in the den, 14 bookcases in my bedroom. And many boxes of books in the storage room. (And this is only the fiction, not counting the nonfiction and reference books.) I'm a book "keeper"--you never know when you might want to reread a book or even just a favorite scene in a book. Unless I disliked or was totally bored by a book, when I finish it I stick it on my shelves. Which is why there is no more space for books or for more bookcases.
So periodically I force myself to go through the shelves and cull books that I haven't looked at in several years. It's excrutiating to give them up, and I am never as firm with myself as necessary. But this time... Well, I'm having the flooring in part of the house replaced (my landlords love me, I spend more on the house than an owner would), which means having to empty and move all those bookcases, and then later put all the furniture back and reorganize all the books onto the shelves. So that's a strong impetous to have fewer books to deal with.
Also, my mind is finally making the subconscious adjustment to a digital future. I no longer have to fear that if I get rid of a book, I may later want it again and be unable to find it. No more haunting used bookstores--there's a good chance I can find most books in future as ebooks.
Not that I won't always want print books. I would never feel comfortable in a building without lots of books to look at and fondle. And I do have a few rare collectibles. But I can cut back a bit, I guess. Of course, I should probably mention that my office here at EC houses the official company library of one copy of each of our print books. Ah, lots of bookcases and books in my office to make me feel cozy...
So what about you? Are you an obsessive keeper of books, or one of those people who gives every book away once you've finished it?