How To Free Yourself From Your Collections: Books

Books.

Ooh, I even love the word.  When I say it, I can smell the ink that glistens upon the freshly pressed pages of some delightful new volume at my local Schmarnes & Schmoble.  Sure, everyone looks at me weird when I shove my nose into the pages like I’m doing a line of sweet, sweet literary nose candy, but I don’t care.  I love books.  New ones, old ones.  Old ones are even better to smell.  Don’t look at me like that, you know what I’m talking about.

But all those books I kept holding onto started to take over my personal space.  Little by little, eventually they required more furniture to be displayed on which required more money and more space for the furniture.

When I looked for a new apartment, the first question I would ask was,”is there enough room for all my bookshelves?”  In many cases, the answer was “no”.  In fact I had to turn down several really great efficiencies that would have saved me a ton of money because there wasn’t enough room for all my bookshelves.  If you look at it another way, I was working more than I had to every month to earn enough money to pay the rent so I would have enough room for books I had already read or would never read.  How crazy is that?  I should have made my books go and get a damned job.

So a few years ago, when I really started making some changes in my life, including purging or selling vast quantities of my stuff, I had to take a good hard look at those glorious books and force myself to decide how important it was to hang on to them.

  • Would I ever have the time to reread this?
  • Am I keeping this because I love to look at it, or to impress other people with my knowledge?
  • If I bought this 5 years ago and still haven’t read it, when would I ever get around to reading it?

These are the kinds of questions you should ask yourself.  Between libraries, which many now lend ebooks, and ebooks from the various online bookstores, there really isn’t any reason to haul around boxes and boxes of books for the rest of your life.
And after my last move from Michigan to Tennessee, I decided I wasn’t lifting one more 40 pound box of paperbacks…ever…again.  
I pulled all the books that wouldn’t have brought any real money on Half.com or Amazon and gave them to Goodwill.  I listed the majority of the rest and gradually sold them off over the past year.  I had the luxury of not needing to worry about the space or the need to move them again.  If I had needed to move, I would have given almost of them away.  
Now I’ve whittled the collection down to about 3 solitary shelves of books.  They only ones that remain are a handful of volumes that I love to paw through and read again as well as some autographed copies.  It’s about as much as would fit in two boxes which still seems like a lot, but I’ve come a long way from the book hoarder I used to be. 
What are your hardest hang-ups about letting go of your collections?
Some other really excellent reads about freeing yourself from your book collections that helped me:

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