It is like cutting off your arm sometimes, but it has to be done. I have too many books and no room for more shelves. Many of my shelves are double stacked. Something’s gotta give. I’m moving, and that also means getting rid of books. I’m pausing in the middle of the heartbreaking process of shelf-purging (Amom hates the purge word, sounds too much like bodily functions I think) to reflect on how I’ve been making decisions.
1. If I’m not going to read it again, it goes. I’ve been pretty severe with my fiction collection. I have collections of many of the works of some authors, and I decided I was going to select the ones I really liked from each author and keep those. Also, if I’ve recently decided not to re-read an author because I now think he/she is a waste of time, I am trying to get rid of all of that author’s works. Example: Tom Clancy. I recently re-read a Clancy book and thought this is a waste of time and shelf space. I found, though, when it came right down to it, there were four Clancy books I couldn’t yet put in the garage sale box. I think I’ll be ok eventually with dumping them, I need another day or so to make sure. The books I’m having a hard time with are the four I think I’ve re-read most often: Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, Debt of Honor, and Executive Orders. I think that those four are the heart of the Jack Ryan set.
2. If I haven’t read it yet and I’ve moved it more than once, I need to consider carefully whether I should give up on this book and let it go. This applies to both fiction and non-fiction, but I’m more generous with the non-fiction because I’ve only begun a serious reading schedule in the last couple of years, and I’ve collected a lot of non-fiction to read — which is, of course, why I need a serious reading schedule. I do dump both fiction and non-fiction if I think I’ll never actually read the book.
3. Some books have sentimental value. I picked up an autobiography of Dick Francis to garage sale today. I like Dick Francis, he wrote interesting mysteries, but I haven’t yet read his autobiography, and I’m not sure it is up there in my list of really interesting things to read. I opened the book and found it was inscribed to my ADad from his sister, my aunt Nan. I’m keeping the book. I only have a few like this. I have a Byron collection inscribed as a wedding present to my great grandmother and some school books that belonged to my AMom and aunts.
4. Doubles. Ergh. I hate it when I find that a book so interests me that I acquire it twice. Oh well, one copy can go.
I’ve filled four boxes so far in this iteration of the purge. I had one box of books I knew I had to get rid of that’s been lurking since the spring, not quite making it out the door. I’m sure there are more boxes to be filled yet. I don’t know if I’ve any other criteria than above. What criteria do you use when getting rid of books?