Monday, March 7, 2011

Books Galore...No More

After many years of hemming and hawing on the issue, I've finally decided to take the bull by the horns and pare down my book collection. As a writer, avid reader, and generally insane bibliophile, this is extremely difficult and time-consuming proposition.

As I've posted about before, several times, I am very attached to my books. Whittling them down to a volume that fits comfortably on my bookshelves is no easy task, but I've decided that the books I own fall into several general categories: old favorites, life-changers, classics/meaningful-to-own volumes, research material, authors I know personally, yet-to-be-read, and miscellaneous. (Truthfully, there's another category that takes up a ton of space itself--copies of my own books! Nothing to be done about that one, so I'm focusing on what I can work with.)

Currently I'm concentrating on the stacks of "yet-to-be-read" and "miscellaneous." Apparently, one of my vices in the last decade has been to purchase books on a whim, and never get around to reading them. I stopped my reckless bookstore visits over a year ago, just to save money, but it's been hard for me to admit that there are books I've owned for years that I will probably never really read. I keep thinking, "Someday...." Yet in many cases that day never seems to come around.

I want my bookshelves to be a reflection of who I am as a person; I want their contents to hold significance to me, and to represent what I care about and value. (Which is why there will always be a swath of partially-read black history volumes around, among other things...) But to have a bunch of books hanging around, entirely unread, doesn't fit in that picture. Especially when a large part of why I hold onto them is simply the regret that I spent money on them that now feels like it has gone to waste, and I need to make up for that "someday."

My decision: Let go of my attachment to each book's intrinsic value, and adhere only to it's emotional value to me. If I don't really care, it must go!

How do you deal with parting with beloved personal artifacts, when the time has come to let go?

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