Like most of the folks I know, I live with a lot of books. In fact, like most of the people I know, I have many more books than I have shelf space for. In further fact, it’s worse than that because my roommate, a retired telephone reference librarian, has almost as many books as I do.
We are in the process of digging out the living room (a long story talked about in a different blog). And this means, in part, unpacking the books and getting them up on shelves, getting rid of books we don’t want any more (although that will mostly happen after the party), and otherwise dealing with books accumulated by two people who lived alone for most of their adult lives. We have gotten the majority of the books on the shelves we do have, although we have several more boxes of books in one of the closets that will eventually need to be dealt with.
The roomie is having more trouble with this process than I am — she was putting it off until she could go through each box, organize the books, get boxes for the books she doesn’t want any more…and this has been happening for at least the eight years I have lived here. We had a long talk this morning, and she has no idea why she was resistant to getting the last boxes of her books dealt with.
I had been putting things off, too, to be honest. I had all my excuses: my health, no place to use as a workspace to sort stuff; the eternal not enough shelf space. But I have finally been making an effort. There are still storage boxes (mostly with clothing) shoved against one wall, but the boxes of books (and records ([remember them?]) have been handled — at least the visible ones.
And my habits have changed over the years. These days, if I want to read something, I generally borrow it from the library…although the occasional used bookstore trip happens.
I still have major sorting to do. The cookbooks will stay, as will the craft books, as will anything that has been autographed to me. Some of the classics will stay, and reference books, and books I reread on a regular basis. But the majority of fiction will be tossed — or, if waiting to be read, read and tossed. Yeah, it would be nice to put things on eBay or Listia, or even Freecycle, but fior my books I’m not sure it’s worth the time and effort.
The roomie and I have just decided to start a “Free Books” box, which we will eventually keep near the door so that friends can get first dibs on books we no longer want (Thanks, Thom and Tom, for the idea).
At any rate, we are figuring out ways to deal with the books we have, and how to create space for books we will acquire in future (no use pretending we won’t — we are readers).
So, let me ask: How do you deal with the overflow of books? How do you handle books you no longer want?