Saturday, May 14, 2011

on weeding our book collection (post 1 of ?)

We've just moved. We're still in the process of unpacking. Moving is really not my favorite thing to do.

Russell and I both freely admit that we have a bit of a book-collecting problem.1 Our books were here there and everywhere in our old place. Many were packed away in boxes and we had bookcases packed in most cases two books-deep nevertheless we had freestanding piles. I refuse to let things continue that way in the new place.

I want books to be on bookcases and organized in such a way that we can actually find something when we want to read it. And, I'm willing to weed mercilessly in order to make that happen.

I did get rid of around 300 books (mostly to a book drive) before we left, but I still have far too many. I'm trying to weed as we unpack book boxes. I've come up with some general rules for myself and I'm trying (though not always succeeding) to be ruthless.

If I've already read a book, I'll only keep it if I genuinely think I'll reread it or if I need to have it around for reference.
When I encounter a to-be-read book, it will only be kept if it meets one of the following conditions:
  • It's a classic that I really do need to get around to reading.
  • I remember its premise and am still interested.
  • Its synopsis appeals to me right now.
  • It came highly recommended from someone whose opinion in books I trust implicitly.
Of course I've kept some books because I liked their titles (Geographies of Home by Loida Maritza Perez) or they were written by an author whose work I've enjoyed in the past (Surfacing by Margaret Atwood) or because it's related to my job (a bunch of the books from oral history class I took in grad school) or any number of other (il)logical reasons. Regardless, I am making progress.
  1. I have to say that at least on my part BookCrossing is partly to blame. When I decided to participate I thought it'd be a good way to get rid of books. It was in fact a catalyst for book acquisition. I started picking up free or unbearably cheap books to bookcross, there are affiliated sites that aid in the trading of bookcrossing books, and once people knew that bookcrossing was something I did they gave me books they no longer wanted so that I could bookcross them. The problem was that often these books never left the apartment, even those acquired expressly for bookcrossing.


  1. Good luck! I'll be watching your progress eagerly as I think I'm heading toward this activity in the near future.

  2. Thanks, Janelle. I'll keep you posted.

  3. Oooh...moving. I'm moving in a few months. It's awful. Plus I'll probably only live in that place for a year. I culled a bunch of books as I was packing up most of my stuff. I keep books that I haven't read yet or that I think I'll re-read.

  4. Moving is not fun at all, especially if you have to do it every year. Good luck!