Book Pile Staredown

September 20, 2009

Found a group of books I was willing to let go of.  Some hardcover and newer softcover ones, probably worth $80 total if they were new.  Monday I took them to work and put into the donation box.  Walked by the box on a coffee break and saw they had been taken somewhere and the box was empty.  Had an “OMG THEY’RE GONE” moment.  I was okay with it, although it did feel strange.

Over the next two days I felt inspired to find more to donate.  Books were pulled out of their storage boxes – on my desk, bed, and a card table.  There were four major groups:

  1. Reference
  2. Want to Read
  3. History – personal and family mementos
  4. Favorites – mostly fiction

If it’s reference, can I give away the book and look the info up online or in a library when I want it?

If it’s #2, how long have I been keeping it to read?  Some have been in storage for more than ten years.  Would I be terribly disappointed if I never got a chance to read them?

History items should be ranked in order of importance, and then maybe I can toss the bottom two.

Why do I keep a favorite book that has already been read?

  • to read again someday
  • identify strongly with the characters
  • makes me feel comfortable to see it

Is that feeling in the book itself?  Would I stop feeling that way if the book was no longer in my life?

This week has been like a staring contest between me and the books.  I sit in a chair and look at the piles.  I sort through them and move books from one pile to another.  I pick up one book and leaf through it, then pace back and forth because I can’t decide and then put it back down.  Who will blink first?  I’m afraid that would be me.

A favorite book is in my collection because I may want to re-read it in the future.  The question is, how much is the storage costing me?  I enjoyed it in the past, and it’s being saved for a potential future that may or may not happen.  I think back to my storage unit, which costs a monthly rental fee that is way more money than the stored things are worth.  Is the peace of mind that I am losing by looking at the book clutter costing me more in the long run than the trouble I’d have to go through to find the book again?

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