photo by sleepyneko / Eunice, found on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons
A number of folks seem to be clearing off their bookshelves lately. If you want some inspiration to declutter your own bookshelves, their words might help.
Stuart Walton wrote an interesting piece entitled My book cull: a loss of shelf esteem. Here's a short excerpt from that:
What's the point of keeping most books once they've been read? They huddle together on the shelves and then, when shelf space runs out, they stand around in precarious columns on the floor, making fossil impressions on the carpet, doing nothing really more serious than bearing witness to what you've read in the past few decades. ...Walton was inspired by "moving house" - which often leads people to re-examine their book collections. Here's Michael Schaub writing on Bookslut about his recent move, and that of editor-in-chief Jessa Crispin:
There will always be books to which one wants to refer back again and again, but what of most of the novels, biographies of minor figures, the tidal wave of critical theory? The answer is: they can go. Having served their moment, they can be shown the door.
Jessa and I both went through epic book purges fairly recently, when she moved to Berlin and I moved to Portland. I can't speak for her, but for me, it was emotionally painful for about five seconds. Then I realized how much it was going to cost to ship everything across the country, and it became much, much easier. I think I was actually gleefully threatening the books at one point. ("See you in hell, copy of Silas Marner that I'm never going to read! SEE YOU IN HELL!")And this one's a bit older: About a year ago, Barbara Winter pointed me to The New York Times, which had asked some authors "what to cull and what to keep." Here are some of the points made by Francine Prose:
If a country, like Czechoslovakia, no longer exists, it’s unlikely that you’ll want to take the travel guide along with you when you go.And I love the honesty and individuality in the answer provided by David Matthews, as he gets rid of what many would consider to be great literature. Here's just a part of his reply:
Ask yourself the following hard question and answer honestly: If I live to be 100, will I read this book again?
Marquez’s A Hundred Years of Solitude makes the scrap heap, because it would take precisely that combination of circumstances before I could be bothered to finish it. Bye, bye Jamaica Kincaid — assigned 20 years ago by a comparative lit professor — you will always be homework to me.Related Posts:
Clearing Out the Bookshelves
3 Perspectives: Not All Books Are Keepers
Books: Weeding the Collection
Weeding the Books: Our Tastes, They Are A-Changin
10 Ways to Find New Homes for Your Books
Letting Go of (Some of) the Books