So I announced this week that I'm moving, which means packing. Oh, the horror! Packing is no fun, and books are heavy. (Thank goodness for rolling suitcases!) And, despite being a book nerd through and through, when I'm going through stuff to pack, I clean out my bookshelves first.
I think an essential part of moving is leaving belongings you no longer need or want behind, which, for me, includes the books I don't plan to read again, and the books I've lost interest in and don't plan to read at all.
I know, I know. I wasn't always like this.
Actually, I used to have the attitude that books were holy relics and that one should never, EVER get rid of books. No matter how beat up your old Dover Thrift edition of The Picture of Dorian Gray is; no matter how much you hated the book and never plan on reading it again; no matter if you received the book as a gift and it's not your style. No matter what, you should never get rid of books. If you were to ask me, I'd have told you that "Thou shalt not weed thine personal book collection" was the first of the Ten Commandments in the Book Nerd Bible.
So what changed, you ask? A lot of things, and here's what I learned.
Space is a valuable commodity
There's a reason libraries regularly weed their collections. Any book you're not going to read that's sitting on your shelf is taking up space that a book you might really love could be using. Plus, if you have extra space on your shelf, that means you can consider how best to fill it. Oh, the possibilities!
Books don't have feelings
Despite what they may try to tell you, books don't have feelings. They're not going to be mad or upset or hurt if you pass them on to someone else. Any guilt you feel for cleaning out your bookshelves is self-generated. Sometimes you just have to tell that little voice in your head to STFU because you don't want to keep books you may never read again on your shelf. And when it's time to move, your muscles will thank you.
"Quality over quantity" is where it's at
This often-used phrase really is true. It's better to have a few good books that you love and you're enthusiastic about than it is to have a million books that you see on your shelf and think, "meh." Reading is supposed to be an enjoyable activity, and "meh" doesn't exactly sing of unbridled joy.
An organized shelf is the best shelf
Now I'm not one of those preachers of the "cleanliness is next to godliness" gospel, but I do know that there's nothing more annoying than not being able to find a book you KNOW you have. That's almost as bad as bringing home your third copy of a book because your shelf is so disorganized that you didn't realize you already had a copy.
Consigning books is an all-around win
Imagine this: you clean out your shelf and take all the books you no longer want to a consignment bookstore. Then you get store credit to buy more books. You're happy because you get to trade books you don't want for books you do want and the store is happy because they get to re-sell the books you don't want to people who do. Everyone wins!
There's always more where that came from
More books are being published now than ever before. So if you're not totally sure if you're going to enjoy it, pass. Hundreds of books are published every year, so there's no point debating with yourself on whether you really want to read one of them. If you're not sure, pass it on, and wait for one that really makes you want to dive headlong into a reading session.
All that being said, I've got a tub of books I'm giving away, so if you're in Birmingham and want some free books, let me know! If no one claims them, I'll donate them.