Monday, October 8, 2012

The great book purge

by benobryan via Flickr
If you've been reading my blog for the last few months, you probably know that I am in an in between stage right now. I am currently living with my dad until I know where my next career move will take me. While I've been getting rather restless and frustrated staying with my dad, it has presented some opportunities that have been rather advantageous. When I made the move to my dad's, I got rid of a lot of stuff to make it a pretty light relocation. I got rid of my bed, some furniture I wasn't thrilled with, some clothes I never wore, old office supplies I would never use. Knowing that I'll be moving again soon, most likely out of the state (California is looking hopeful!), I am trying to get rid of even more of my stuff so that I'll be able to save some money and some effort when the time comes to pack up again.

As I've stated before, I have not taken after my hoarding mother and instead try to keep my possessions pretty minimal. It's not going to be very easy for me to find additional things to get rid of. Most of the things I've been considering are functional things that I would like to keep, but I honestly don't use that often (crock pot, shot glasses, etc.). There is one area, however, that fingers could be pointed at me for maybe collecting a few too many of and that, unsurprisingly, is books.

As far back as I can remember, I have always had an overflowing bookshelf. My approach to collecting books has been driven by this idea:

"Even when reading is impossible, the presence of books acquired produces such an ecstasy that the buying of more books than one can read is nothing less than the soul reaching towards infinity... we cherish books even if unread, their mere presence exudes comfort, their ready access, reassurance." -A.E. Newton 

Growing up in the environment that I did, it shouldn't be surprising how comforting books were to me. They were my major escape hatch. Perhaps that's why I'm a librarian now, hmm?

Over the last couple of years though, after having to sling box after box of books from one apartment to the next, I've gotten much better about reading the books I have and getting rid of them if they weren't ohmygod amazing. I've taken this idea into hyper drive, reading 15 books, since I finished my masters and moved into my dad's. Out of these 15 books:
  • All 15 were from my bookshelf
  • 3 belonged to friends of mine, so I returned them after I finished them
  • 10 books I got rid of, either putting them in the "leave a book, take a book" area of my library or giving them to a specific person I thought would enjoy them
  • 2 I kept because I genuinely enjoyed them and thought I might read them again
Basically, what I did to decide which books to read were to go through my boxes of books and, book by book, ask myself if I thought I would reread the book again. If I answered no, it went into my to-read pile. I also asked myself if the book belonged to someone else. I read those first so that they could go back to their owners as soon as possible. Most of the books I picked out where fluffier books, mysteries, or popular fiction. 

I'm now on my sixteenth book and once I'm finished with it, I'll just pull another book off of my to-read pile. A nice and easy way to pare down my book collection.

What are you tactics for getting rid of things when you're moving or when you have a few too many items in a collection?

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