Checking in

August 1st, 2010

And I have a question for you.

To set this up, I’ll tell you I’m a dedicated purger. We’re now at the point in our house (which some would consider small but which is the perfect size for us) where it’s very important to practice the “something in, something out” rule. This means it’s OK to bring home something nicer or newer or better than something we already have but that thing we already have needs to be going somewhere else. I have no wish or desire to accumulate stuff and, in fact, it kind of makes me feel claustrophobic to do so.

So…what about books?

There was a time when I thought I would keep every book I ever got (this was during the acquisition phase of my life). However, clearly that’s no longer practical nor, to be honest, do I really find it desirable anymore either.

So, while my “Complete Works of William Shakespeare” and my Jane Austen collection will always have shelf space (don’t forget every Dick Francis book ever written and “My Friend Flicka” and “Where the Red Fern Grows” and “The Monday Horses”…oh, so many great books!) I can’t say I feel the need to keep an Emily Giffin book forever just because it was an enjoyable cottage read.

There’s also an added strain on our bookshelves in that my son is turning out to be a truly avid nose-buried-in-book reader (yay!) and I really want to build a library for him as well. Percy Jackson and the Olympians (the entire five-book series) has earned itself permanent fixture status just because of how much he adored it. It literally changed him; he’s a different child from before he read it and so how can I ever get rid of those books? (As an aside does anybody know what’s up with Rick Riordan? How can the man write so much? I’d love to know what he eats for breakfast!).

All this to say, I do get rid of books. Yes, I do. I have various ways of doing so and they include “going to the cottage” (lots of things go to the cottage on a kind of trial separation), donating to my kids’ school’s Book Bonanza fundraiser, lending them to people and then completely forgetting who I’ve lent them to and being surprised if they ever come home, etc.

My question for you is do you get rid of books? If so, how? And do you, like me, try to limit the number of books you need to house by taking advantage of things like borrowing from friends (and then returning them!), using the library and using e-readers? Note: we have two e-readers in our house – a Kindle and an iPad – and I’m not sure where they fit into the “something in, something out” rule but, there you go, once again it proves I’m not perfect!


2 Responses to “Checking in”

  1. Lynn on August 4, 2010 12:12 pm

    Ugh, I am a terrible book collector. I’d definitely keep everything I ever read if at all possible. Unfortunately, we don’t have space for that anymore here, either. When we moved into this house, we did a big purge, and everything that I thought I’d never read again, or liked well enough to share with a friend, went. It was tough but I have to say, I don’t miss them.

    These days I try to keep to the library as much as possible. It was hard at first – I used to feel like the things I read were made more important with a hard copy sitting on my bookshelf, like a trophy of my reading ability. Now I try to trust that if a rented book has a serious impact on me, it will live on in my mind. There have been one or two times that I loved a library book so much that I just had to get my own copy, for sharing and re-reading.

    My son has just discovered reading for pleasure this summer and it’s so exciting. It’s fantastic to see him leafing through a book on his own and trying to sound out words – I could almost cry with joy. I think for Christmas I will get him his own bookshelf for his room and let him fill it with whatever he treasures – even if it is Captain Underpants :) .

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