Monday, February 2, 2015

How Many Books Do You Have?

Today’s topic is books. We all have them, but do we need them all? This is one of my biggest “cluttered mind” issues. If you are like me, you have way more books than you need, and probably more than you will ever read. This does not include books which are on your reading device. 

Take a look at your book shelves, built-ins, or other places you have books. How many of them have you already read? Are you going to read them again? If not, why are you keeping them? Do you limit the number of books you bring into your house? Have you ever bought the same book twice? (I have.)

Most of us have a spreadsheet program on our computers. I suggest creating a database of your books – by author, by genre, whatever works best for you. If feasible, load it onto your smartphone so you can double-check your list in the bookstore. I cannot do this, so I take a picture of any books I am interested in buying. When I get home, I check my list and delete the photos of any books I already own. Next time I go to the store, I can pick up any I did not delete and cannot live without. The important thing is to remember to delete photos after buying.

ASSIGNMENT: Give consideration to which books are important to keep and which ones are not. Put the ones that are not important into a yard sale box, or find a local charity or library to donate them to. I am slowly learning to delete from my life anything that I do not love or need. It is a matter of being ready to let go and being real with where your life is at today.

If you had to move sometime this year, would you want to take all your books with you? Packed boxes of books are very heavy. If you are lucky enough to have movers, you pay according to weight. Think about making stacks of books into the shape of your sofa. Which do you think will be heavier?

Source: Clipart Pal
The rest of this post is part of my personal story and is somewhat of a cautionary tale. It is also longer than the first part of this post. I will give you the moral here, in case you do not read the whole thing: I have been utilizing my library more of late, and that is my plan for the future.

When I was a child, I would pour over the Scholastic Books order form. I was given a limited book budget by my parents, so I had to choose wisely. Perhaps that is why books are so important in my life. Maybe this is why I am a book hoarder today.

In 2007, my house went on the market. I started paring down my book collection right away. I had four five-shelf bookcases full of books. A fifth one held office supplies and more books. I also had boxes of books in one of the crawl spaces. I had no idea where I would be moving to, but I knew I would not have that amount of space again. I was ready to pare down.

Over three years, I went through my books repeatedly and had a yard sale each summer before I moved in 2010. The books that were left over were donated to the local public library for their biennial sale. 

First, let me say that Girl Scout cookie, liquor/wine, and Avon boxes make great book boxes for storage or moving. Second, even with all the weeding/selling, I moved 60 boxes of books with me. A great storage space was included in the rent, so I limited the books moved into the apartment to what I needed or thought I could use while I was in graduate school.

When I received my degree, I knew I was not willing to move 60 boxes of books with me again. And, I had new books bought over those two years. So, I had another sale, and the books that were left were donated to charity. I moved 30+ boxes with me. Still too many, but about half of what I had started with. Before leaving the grad school rental, I also got rid of two bookcases.

After settling into the apartment I am in now, I unpacked several boxes, including a lot of the college texts that were to help me in my career - I had not planned on becoming disabled, of course. 

I went through my books again and ended up donating more boxes of books to the public library here. Many of the books were new, so the librarians went through them, selected many for the shelves and put the rest into the book sale.

Today, I have books on one full set of shelves plus a couple more individual shelves. I still have 13 boxes of books to sort through once more. I know I will have grandchildren in the next few years, thanks to my youngest child, but the other grandmother is a librarian and has a house full of books. In the end, I will probably pass on my child’s favorite childhood books, and donate the rest of my children’s books.

I cannot believe it, but I will be moving again soon, and I only want to move five or six boxes of my truly favorite authors’ books – the ones I have not read yet, that is. A few books, like a hard-covered edition of “Little Women,” will always go with me. I may or not read it again, but it is special to me; I had given it to my mother when I was young, and she gave it to me shortly before passing away.