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October 1, 2014 / Angela Sylvia

Saving Shelves: Weeding My Book Collection

Before I moved to New Hampshire over four years ago, I took a long hard look at my book collection and realized, profoundly: I don’t want to deal with that. So I sold some things online, carted a few to the library, and got a good chunk of change trading others in at the comic shop.

Still, I came to my new home with an admittedly excessive amount of books, so that even after installing three different sets of shelves I had to double stack. Then I started working at a bookstore, and for I time I was a soul lost.

I’ve gotten rid of relieved myself of some books since then, but I never seem to be able to match the pace of what I take in. Recently, it’s just become too much. I get a bit of anxiety over the excessive amount of stuff I have, not to mention that we’ll eventually move again — what’s really worth carting around to yet another house?

With that in mind, I’ve started the biggest weed of my private collection of books I can remember doing. I have manga pulled from shelves, novels I will never read again waiting in stacks to go to the library. A few weeks ago I dragged over a couple bags of nearly 50 books (plus some DVDs) to the library I work at, and plan on bringing an even bigger amount of manga to my town’s library (they actually put a lot of it on the shelf) soon. And there’s still more I know I could ditch, if only…

Aaah, that’s much better…

You see, the big problem with getting rid of belongings is, I’m a very sentimental person. I put a lot of emotional worth on the items I own, to the point that one of the primary emotions I feel when ridding myself of them is guilt. Added to that is nostalgia (remember when I read that with so-and-so??) and a nervous fear that I’ll want to read those books the moment they’re out of my hands. (Not to mention, once again, those hypothetical-nonexistent-children that might want to read their mother’s comics someday! They won’t, Angela. They just won’t.)

It does hurt to get rid of them, and if I think about one for too long I’m likely to gave and shove into some spot on the shelf again. But when I get over myself, arrange the books in a bag and give them to a library, or sell them to a comic shop, or pass them on to a coworker’s kid just discovering how much he or she loves comics, I start to feel good, a little more free. A little more like my collection represents the reader I am now, not the reader I fondly remember being.

 

How often do you weed your books? Or do you let them pile around you, like a hardbacked paper fortress? What do you do with the books you no longer want?

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