For those who love books, deciding to tackle the overflowing bookcases can be a bit traumatic. Here are the accounts of three people who have done their own weeding.
Seth Godin recently wrote about the Kindle, but the post also included this:
I just got rid of 3,000 books in preparation for an office move. That's two decades worth of reference books. I realized that most of the books I bought I didn't use any more (thanks to wikipedia and google) and that buying books in anticipation of giving them to someone else was generous but not actually happening in practice.On A Strange Attractor, the writer decides to get rid of some books - and goes through them carefully in the process. The whole post is fun to read; here's an excerpt.
For the first time, I became aware that I have literally hundreds of mediocre fantasy novels. I have scores of books that I have not the slightest intention of ever reading again, old course books, books that I bought on impulse because they were on special offer, random non-fiction books that caught my eye in second hand bookshops, and an entire collection of Teach Yourself language books for which the only justification is that I once used them in an essay on linguistics. So really, the question is not “which books should I get rid of?”, but “which books are worth keeping?”.And then there's Luc Sante, writing in the Wall Street Journal. Again, I recommend the entire article; this is just a small sample:
So which books are worth keeping? Well, reference books, for a start, but really, in the age of the internet, the only reference book I regularly use is a good dictionary. And a road atlas every now and then. The rest can pretty much go. But can I really bring myself to get rid of a perfectly good dictionary of languages? A guide to English usage? One of those delightful Victorian books that profess to contain information on just about everything? Who’s who in British history?
Now that I have moved again -- into a house that's not necessarily smaller but that I am determined to keep from being choked with books like kudzu -- I have just weeded out 30 boxes worth: books I won't read and don't need, duplicates, pointless souvenirs.
I discovered that I owned no fewer than five copies of André Breton's "Nadja," not even all in different editions. I owned two copies of St. Clair McKelway's "True Tales from the Annals of Crime & Rascality," identical down to the mylar around the dust jacket. I had books in three languages I don't actually read. ... I also had no need for books with funny titles, books acquired only because everybody else was reading them, books with no value except as objects, and books that inspired a vague sense of dread whenever they caught my eye -- possible cornerstones of culture that nevertheless only solitary confinement would ever compel me to read.
Related Post: Clearing Out the Bookshelves
[photo by Jaydot]