The book quandry.....

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Today I did the unthinkable--the thing I have pondered and have never had the nerve to do. I separated the books on my shelves into two groups: read and unread.

Well, the results were more embarassing and enlightening than I had anticipated.

I have 140 books on my shelves (not including my summer reading challenge pile in my bedroom, which would bring the total up a little) that I have never read! And what is worse, several of those are volumes that contain the complete texts of several novels in one book! So, in all honesty, it is likely that I have 170 or so individual fictional works that I have yet to read that sit on my shelves.

At my present rate of reading it would take me more than THREE YEARS to read those books if I never bought another book!

As I've said before, there is a part of me that longs to weed out my bookshelves, but another part (stronger at this point) that yells "No, no, no!!!!" I have a vision in which I have grandchildren who come to stay with me in the summer when they are teenagers, and spend lazy afternoons messing with Mama's books and picking out something to lose themselves in.

On the other hand, the practical side of me kicks in and asks, "Just how many books do you ever reread, Miss Book Collector?" And I scuff my foot on the floor and mumble, "Not many. I'm too busy reading new stuff."

So what do you do? I'm at the place where shelf space is becoming limited--and I have nowhere near as many books as, say, Steven Riddle. Where do I put them? How do I decide what to keep? What's reasonable and healthy? And where does detachment come into all this?

It is, as they say, a puzzlement.


I have the same quandry, and probably at least the same number of unread books. Last year, I got rid of approximately 500 books, mostly from my days as a charismatic evangelical protestant. The bedroom I use as a library is now overflowing again. Most of my books are non-fiction but I also have a guilty habit - I read Star-Trek novels and have all of them. I have never really counted them but know that there are over 400. I'll never read them again and recently started thinking about donating them to the local jail or the maximum security prision in the area. Detachment (or lack of it) is definitely a problem. At least I now know I'm not the only one who has a problem getting rid of books.

I think you should give most of your books to me. It will help in detachment. Plus it is better to give than to receive.

Divide 'em up! Love: you keep. Hate: you dispose of - burn if necessary. Middle ground: Keep the "worthy" ones, lose the fluff. Sell to a used book store if it's not more trouble than they're worth.

I say decorate with your books! That's what I do since they are spilling into each and every room. If you stack enough of them and put a piece of plyboard down and cover it with a nice linen cloth, you'll have a new desk - to casually stack more books!
Kitchen Madonna

we recently did a major book weeding. when the kids were out here, I asked them to go through boxes and shelves and tell me which books they really wanted - and now we have 50 or so of the one price Priority Mail boxes sitting in the living room. Every payday we mail off 10 boxes or so to the kids.
Later this week I will be going through more shelves and deciding what books to take to the used book store.

I also have some encyclopedia type books that would be great for a home schooling family - I would be willing to give them away (postage would be appreciated). These are Time-Life books on science, a set of ChildCraft, etc.

We are trying desperately to downsize our lives. We have some major changes coming up in the very near future and are ready to give away lots of stuff to those who could use it.

However, I anticipate that we will still have a couple of thousand books even after the purge. Some things just can't be helped.

And yes, I do reread many of my books.

any books you wanna get rid of mamaT kin be passed this way. it looks like our home library may be a reality -- the carpenter has already begun building our bookshelves. YEA!

Build a library. Or donate em to the smockmama's library, where you can borrow em ! :) My grandpa had a library in his house, I loved that room ! I wish we could return to that house :( The last time I was there, at 18, I remember everything seeming so much smaller than the time before (when I was 9, haha).

sounds good smock. Hope you'll post some pictures of your completed home library.

This is a dilemma I understand. We have converted an entire wall in three bedrooms to bookshelves. I admire people who love books passionately and can part with them.

When my father died we estimated that he had 6,000 books in his personal library. It turns out he double shelved! There were closer to 10,000! It was quite an effort to distribute and deal with them. So I applaud Alicia and her project.

You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be --
I had a mother who read to me.

-Strickland Gillilan

Thanks for visiting MamaT, it means alot.

I say do a quick sort. If your gut says "Yuk" pass it on or toss it. If your gut says "LOVE IT", keep it. Then, on the "Hmmm, I don't know", set those aside seperately, and reduce that pile by 50%. Then see what you have.

I love books, and it is difficult to get rid of them, but the above system has worked to keep my books managable.

As a professional librarian MamaT my advice is

chuck out the ones you don't want, keep the ones you like

I often go throught and get rid of the silly novels and others I don't want any more to fetes bookstalls etc. My days of being a pack rat are long gone and if I have not read it for a long tiem or don't like it anymore than it is time to deselect or chuck. We have many books but how may can you really keep



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This page contains a single entry by MamaT published on July 9, 2006 1:59 PM.

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