Become enough of a bibliophile, and you’ll undoubtedly start to pile up loads and loads of books. Pile up enough books, and you might start running short on living space. I certainly have lately. It’s not that I’ve been buying more books lately, just that I’m finally starting to reach capacity in my room and all my other secret book hidey holes, like the funny looking tree outside the grocery store, or the secret compartment behind the hidden panel in the wall right behind you. No, don’t look! It’s a secret. Duh.
With a librarian mother who also happens to be a general neat freak, the pressure to clean things up by giving the books away to benefit, say, a local library gets pretty high pretty fast. Still, though, each of these books that make up the stacks fast turning into large pillars have a special place in my heart and soul. Trying to give away the wrong one could cause a painful Jenga tower-like collapse, both metaphorically with my delicate emotions and and literally with all the books piled up in my room.
I came through the experience okay though, with much more space than I thought I could make for myself, and a few decent tips for other people looking to reduce their stock but unsure where to start. Lucky for me, I’ve got just the blog to share them on. Here we go:
1. Start easy.
Some people like to go on about how getting hard things over quick, like ripping off a band-aid, is better for you. Those people probably never had to figure out whether they were truly going to give up on “getting around” to reading that one book about doily crocheting or give up your favorite sci-fi trilogy from high school. Start with the simple little books, the ones you’ve already read and didn’t care for. Maybe you even forgot you had them. Shoveling away all the junk books in your space can be cathartic, and help get you into the give-away mindset.
2. Be honest with yourself
C’mon Maddie. That crochet doily book from before, are you really going to use it? Even if you got good enough and doing all those fancy little stitches, wouldn’t you find better things to make than doilies? What are doilies even for anyway? Ouch, that hurt, but now I have one more book in the giveaway pile.
Books are meant to be read. Whether its an old favorite you haven’t picked up in a long time or a to-read text that’s been collecting dust for ages, you need to consider giving the book a new home, one where it might be read and re-read. That way, everybody’s happy.
3. Don’t be afraid to sleep on it.
If you come across a book you just can’t place, just leave it alone for a bit. I found taking a break for a while usually clears my head to the point where I can make a decision nicely. Don’t wait more than a day or so, thugh. Otherwise the days turn to weeks then months and now you’ve just got a mess a books that you’re totally gonna get around to sorting eventually but never do, and you pretend having that much difficulty opening your sock draw is totally fine. You don’t need to move these!
4. Don’t let mom help.
Mom, dad, another family member or friend, the person can change but the sentiment remains the same. Even if these people are fellow book lovers, do not trust them. They can’t feel the intimate connection you have with each and every volume in your collection. Worst case scenario, they just randomly start chucking away old books that are “in the way” or “especially bad looking.”
If a certain helpful clean freak starts looking at you weeding through books and saying stuff like, “What, do really need those?” immediately evacuate them from the premises. Calmly push them away from you books and assure them that you have everything under control and dammit mother just let me do it myself!
5. Get rid of those old library books.
Oh dear, how the heck did these get here? A library book? I think maybe I checked this title out in 2007, but how did it end up all the way in the back of my closet? Yeah, it happens, no use getting all guilt-ridden about it now. Give it away. They won’t refund any fines you had to pay. If you somehow avoided getting caught, like if this was on you sister’s card or you just outright stole a library book (you monster) don’t go dredging up old stinking corpses. They’ve probably bought a new copy of the book by now, and anyhow who needs to live through that one Seinfeld episode and go on an epic quest to discover just who what and where happened to this old copy of Tropic of Cancer.
Well, there you have it, the five strategies that helped me keep sane during one of the most painful and emotional parts of any book lover/hoarder’s life. Hopefully they’ll help keep you from going into a sobbing fetal position the next time some decides you need to clear out some old books, like I totally never did. Ever. The End.