Monday, January 7, 2013

Even Book Lovers Can Have Too Many Books

piles of books on the floor, next to full bookshelves
Photo by Kristin Brenemen, found on Flickr, licensed through Creative Commons

tsundoku (Japanese) — buying books and not reading them; letting books pile up unread on shelves or floors or nightstands. — Otherwordly

"I love my books; no way am I getting rid of any of them." I've heard that so many times, and I empathize — I love books, too. But it seems that all of us have at least some books hiding away on the bookshelves that just don't serve us any more. And if the books are hidden away in boxes, or live in piles that begin to take over your home, it might be time to do a bit of culling.

If you could use a little encouragement to take a fresh look at your bookshelves — or the piles of books that don't fit on them — I've gathered some reflections from various people that might be useful.

I love this quote from Discover Books, which collects books and redistributes them:
Your books are bored. Give them a new life.
On a similar note, here's what a member of the Unclutterer Forums wrote:
I don't want... to hold onto books that could bless others because I "might" read them again someday.
Some books are obviously ones that need to go, just because of their physical condition, even if they are books you like. Jon Carroll gives an example:
John le Carre, "The Honourable Schoolboy." ... Of course I'm going to get rid of it. Its pages are yellow, its type is too small for me now, it smells very faintly of mildew and insect droppings.
Some people decide they no longer need a specific type of book. Here's a Twitter update from organizer Rachel Papworth from last July:
Decluttering (even more) books. No longer keeping classics. If I want to reread Middlemarch, I'll get it from the library.
And want some inspiration to get rid of cookbooks? Take a look at the one shown on Better Book Titles:
Beautiful Pictures of food you'll never make
For a more complex look at the cookbook issue, here's just part of a great post by Adam Robert, The Amateur Gourmet, on his Great Cookbook Purge:
I found myself staring at my cookbook collection. ... Six giant Ikea shelves of cookbooks, collected from five and a half years of food blogging. And like a bolt of lightning, a thought singed the inside of my brain: “Do I really need all of these cookbooks? How many do I really use, really? ...

I lifted the first book: the Larousse Gastronomique. An enormous red tome, this is the French encyclopedia of gastronomy, filled with French cooking techniques and dishes and even recipes. But did I ever use it? NEVER. A big, all-caps NEVER. ... So why did I need it? I didn’t. ...

It all comes down to trust. Do you use it, do you love it, but — most importantly – do you trust it? The ones that I kept, are books that I trust absolutely.
And, of course, some people are questioning whether apps are making cookbooks obsolete. Even if you don't think so, the easy availability of online recipes might influence what cookbooks — and how many — you want to keep.

Finally, here's a perspective from Your Monkey Called, via Metafilter:
It’s time to sell your books when it’s less painful to just re-buy it on Amazon than go down to the basement and dig it out.

Related Posts:
Clearing Out the Bookshelves
3 Perspectives: Not All Books Are Keepers
Books: Weeding the Collection
Letting Go of (Some of) the Books
Is It Time to Bid Adieu to Some of Your Books?
Loving Books and Letting Go
Weeding My Own Book Collection

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