Monday, June 27, 2011

A Farewell to Books

This weekend I starting thinning what has become a rather unwieldy collection of books. Oh, it's no big deal to hang onto books when you stay in one place... But since I'm rather expecting to box up the whole kit and caboodle and move to Oregon - note, this is NOT an official announcement, just something more along the lines of a weather forecast - it's time to assess what I own and take a more deliberate stance toward all this stuff.

Anyone else got too much stuff? Sheesh. I thought I had the books under control. But the last time I counted was before I emptied my office cubicle and brought everything home. I now work from the house. The additional volumes - their ranks swollen by donations from people who left before I did - doubled the number of books on my shelves. 

So, this weekend, I boxed up about 50 for the next charity pickup. As I get used to the idea I expect I'll be able to steel my will enough to pick at least another 50 or so send away. Since I'm starting with about 1000 volumes, saying goodbye to 100 should not be so hard, right?

I told my love - the impetus for the expected move - it's going to be hard enough to say goodbye to all my friends. Don't ask me to give away my books too. I'm probably a little silly about this. And I'm not sure he sees it the same way. But he's a kind and considerate man and I don't think he'll force the issue. He'll let me come to a conclusion on my own. He's good that way. He saw my mother's yarn collection, though, which is about the size of my book collection. He may wonder if he's found a woman with too much baggage.

Ah well. There are bigger issues to deal with than the book question. And it's not like we'll be moving in together. If he has to deal with my book collection at this point it will be just helping carry boxes into my (theoretical) new place.

Is being much of a book-owner justified in this day and age? After all, I do have a library card, a bank account, and a good bit of internet savvy. But I like the books themselves.... frequently re-reading them, looking stuff up in them, and passing them on to others. Recently I was able to send a good collection of stuff saved from Central Asia to an old friend moving to Sofarawayistan; I was glad I still had it. The month before, a family going to Indonesia was glad for the loan of a dozen volumes on topics they thought would help with their preparation. It was partially to fit those back on the shelves that I started thinning. So it seems worth holding onto these things. Right? Many of them, anyway... Well, I'll tackle the process in stages.

Because of the aforementioned dynamics, these days when people ask me to review a book I think twice. Often I ask for an electronic copy. If I don't end up liking the book and thinking I'll read it again, I really don't want to own it. I still get free books, though. Both wanted and unwanted.

Several of the "wanted" ones came to me through Thomas Nelson. Their BookSneeze program provides free books to bloggers who promise to write about them. And I've gotten behind. Have some promises to keep. To discharge this duty I will be posting a couple of the tidy, 200-word book reviews they prefer. One (The Vertical Self) is a book I loved and wrote about, just never did a proper review. The other (The Quotable Chesterton) is more of a reference book. Like Chesterton himself, it's great fun but a little hard to get one's arms around. But I shall review them both. Watch this space.

Then.... question is, will I request or accept more free books or put a stop to this for a while?


Megan Noel said...

wow, you might have more books than me. i am getting some together to donate too - but ones i do not think i will want to reread. i know at one point in the past i got rid of some books that i thought the library would have if i ever wanted to read again - but it turns out that the library gets rid of books! some of the books i KNOW they had 20 years ago they no longer have! that's frustrating. well, my best advice is pack the books in small boxes! i was looking forward to unpacking and organizing DC's art books this summer - he has some amazing books - alas, not to be.

Marti said...

Well, for a long time I was able to keep myself under 500 volumes. It was the combination of all my work books/files to my personal ones that created the current situation.

For now I'm holding onto the theological reference works, but when I know for sure where I'm landing and how much space I'll have those will probably be thinned considerably. I did put my NIV Bible Exhaustive Concordance - a seven-pound volume - in the donate box...

Maybe someday I'll have a room that can serve as a home office/library. Just now I have filing cabinets in two rooms and the garage, bookcases in three rooms as well, and boxes of files and papers hither and yon... Reduction, while painful, may also prove to be freeing.

Yes, Chris suggested cataloging my books in the knowledge that they may need to be boxed up for a while. When the time comes I'll probably invest in some sturdy banker boxes so they won't be too heavy and can stack well.

You're right, the library cannot be counted on to have everything one would want, even if once they did. Though if you are willing to wait they will often find it for you. (Bit embarrassing if the book you were hankering for was your fifth-grade favorite!) Kind of fun to see more and more things available electronically, though. Think I should get rid of my editions of Jane Austen and L.M. Montgomery?