Sunday, February 26, 2012

Purging Titles

Over the last year or so, I realized that, prepare yourself for the shock bibliophiles, I have too many books in my house.  The paperbacks are double stacked on my floor to ceiling bookshelves.  My master bedroom was overrun with bags of books.  The office that could qualify me as a hoarder had boxes teetering on other boxes of books until I couldn't find the room to even walk into the room. 

I knew I had to do something about the situation before the floors caved or the stacks grew to such height that one day the boxes would tumble and bury me and the dogs.  Going through the boxes and bags was a task I set for myself every weekend.  Every weekend because one Sat-Sun set would arrive and I'd find many other things to do other than sort through the books.  When you love books and reading as much as I do, books are not just paper pages between covers.  They matter.  The stories don't just entertain, they transport us to fabulous adventures and introduce us to people for whom we grow to care.

One of the reasons that I bought a Kindle a few years ago was so that I could continue to supply my voracious reading habit without overwhelming my already jam-packed space.

When I scheduled my surgery, I asked a good friend if she would come down and stay with me while I recovered.  I knew the doctors would put some restrictions on my activities and I also knew that I would get bored recuperating at home without company.  My brother and sister-in-law stayed with me for the first week, then Marilyn arrived.  Mar has a lot of energy and was eager to help.  She readily agreed to help me with the book sorting endeavor.

I wasn't allowed to lift any boxes or bags so Mar dragged them out of my office to my recliner.  It took me forever to go through each container.  I lifted each book out and studied it.  Some were no-brainers.  Heather Graham, Jenny Crusie, Lani Diane Rich, Anne Stuart, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Nora Roberts - automatic keepers forever.  Books by other close friends -- also keepers.

Books that were freebies in gift bags from conferences or contests -- into the "donate" box.  Even if I liked the book, I had to be ruthless.  If it wasn't a book that I was likely to read again, it had to go.  Some of them were books that I'd greatly enjoyed.  Take the J.D. Robb (also Nora Roberts) In Death series.  As much as I love Eve and Roark and the mysteries, I knew that I was unlikely to re-read the entire series.  I'll buy the new releases on my Kindle. 

The project took me a couple of hours and a lot of tough self-talk, particularly when I dithered over some of the titles.  I literally sighed over some of the books before I gently added them to a box.  When finally finished I had five boxes ready to donate and one half-full box of books to keep.  Before I could change my mind or second-guess my decisions, Marilyn loaded them into my car. 

I took them to our local library where a very nice man unloaded the boxes and all of the librarians profusely thanked me for remembering them.  Public libraries by and large suffer from cuts in funding.  Ours sells used books to supplement their income.

It comforts me to know my books will find good new homes where they will be read, appreciated and, hopefully, shared with still other readers.  I also believe that the ones I donated will help gain new fans and dedicated readers for their authors which will spur additional sales.

It's all good.  Really.


KarenB said...

Hey look! Your home lost weight! ;)

I try to go through at least some of my books for the yearly Friends of the Library sale. Sometimes I make it, sometimes I don't. Shamefully enough, one year I actually bought back two books I had donated. *sigh* The kindle does help with not buying so many, as does having the Borders store, the only near-by bookstore, close. But it was sad.

Last year, Dana Stabenow, an Alaskan mystery writer, posted on Facebook of the need of a rural Alaskan community for books. So I ran a book drive at my church and through my own collection and sent them 14 boxes of books. That was cool, knowing they were needed where they were going.

Mary Stella said...

That's so cool that you ran a book drive for a town in need!

Lol on the comment about my home losing weight too!

Cindy said...

I think most readers can empathize with the book situation. My brother can literally line his house with bookshelves and still he has books in stacks and boxes everywhere. I don't know why or how his wife puts up with it, but she does. He long ago admitted he wouldn't be able to read all of them in this lifetime, but he still collects, because there is something so amazing in the potential of an unread book.

Congrats on your book purge. I'm sure it wasn't easy.