The Books, the BOOKS…

I have a problem.

Well, I have a lot of problems, but this is a specific problem. I have these books. Actually, I probably have a thousand of them, but most of them are not a problem. Most of them are beloved members of the household. But these…I’m not so sure about these.

Here’s what happened. Today I was inspired to take every single thing out of the kids room (I promise to share the result of that one later, but as you’ll see in a minute it’s still a work in progress) and also the upstairs landing. To rearrange, and dust, and sort, and recreate according to a new vision.

Contrary to appearances, many of these are beloved books.

During the process, I took all the books off the bookshelves. For one thing, they needed it. For another, I can’t move the bookshelves with books on them, and there was much furniture moving going on. (I don’t expect to be able to move tomorrow.)

I’ll sort the kids’ books, get them in on it, give away some and keep most. That’s not the problem. This is the problem:

Look in the back.

Not the kids’ books, but the piles under them and behind them. And even more so, this:

Ok, NOW you get it.

Tons of genre mysteries. A full collection of every Shopaholic book except the last. (I still maintain that the first “Shopaholic” book was one of the best-structured novels I’ve ever read.) Lots of chicklit (I know, some people don’t like the term, but these really do fit that bill). A smattering of sci-fi and fantasy.

Some of this there’s no question about. I’ll read Dorothy Sayers’ books again. The Asey Mayos are out of print; they’re not going anywhere. But then there are the more questionable cases. Books that were once the kind of thing I’d re-read (Ngaio Marsh, Carolyn Hart, Ruth Rendell) that I now don’t want to. Will I, when I have more time on my hands again? I used to go through a book a night, easy. That was years ago. But in those days, I munched these down like popcorn. Comforting popcorn. Familiar popcorn. I can see that I might need that comfort someday in the future. But how deep do my shelves of comfort need to be?

As for Shopaholic and her sisters, I’m done. I can’t imagine I’ll find any comfort there when I am old (and there is always the Kindle for those). But is there something to be said for keeping them on the shelves for exploring kids? I read so much from my parents’ shelves (some of it utterly inappropriate) when I was young. I learned tons. The less I understood, the more I learned. But will any of my kids really prowl through my paperbacks? How much do I hang onto on the off chance?

I know my kids aren’t the kid I was. But I do hope one of them will share my reading jones (well, really I hope all of them will). And I will keep those shelves packed with anything that might encourage them (including my full childhood set of Trixie Belden, a good assortment of the Happy Hollisters, and an ancient, well-read copy of Anne of Green Gables, among other things). But I suspect I probably don’t need all those Anne Perrys. But I do need the Marjorie Allinghams!

I’m having a really hard time figuring out where to draw the line.

Anyone want to come help?

6 Responses to “The Books, the BOOKS…”

  1. Jess says:

    The mass market stuff we give away at our sales, but the VA, Haven, and Hannah House love donations of appropriate stuff (VA, for the waiting rooms, “guy stuff,” like Tom Clancy or mysteries, for example). Everything else we can take at the library and if there’s anything we can’t use, I can shuttle it off to “our guy” who takes what we do not. We are assessing what he can take next Thursday after school, so bring what you can before that. Let me know if you need help!

  2. Nancy says:

    I have done 3 major moves in the last 7 years, to places with less and less storage. Lost 2 bookcases in the process too (the big kind). I say get rid of it. You’ll get more. Your kids will find what they need when they need it.

    Some books I have to keep. My aunt is an author, so those aren’t even considered for donation. Children’s books are mostly keepers, but I did give up some of the China things including flash cards. But things that can be replaced? Gone. My sister just started teaching 4th grade so anything that was in the grade school range, from 1-8th, went to her.

    And once you start you get good at it! Christmas decorations, the 15 whisks, the 3rd set of every day dishes (that you really never will use again). Curtains. Towels. Gone gone gone.

  3. slawebb says:

    I worked at B&N for a couple of years. I was single, living at home one of those years. I bought (at a 30% discount) lots of books that I thought I would one day read. I moved 6 times in the last 12 years. I have gotten rid of most of them. Maybe pretend that your moving and donate what you don’t want to “move.” I also agree with tossing the mass markets. Those books are made to last. The glue will dry up and crack and the pages will fall out. I think that the trade paper books’ (big paperbacks) have better glue. I could be wrong, but they are made better that the mass markets. When I worked for B&N the publishers didn’t even want us to send the whole mass market book back. We just stripped the front cover (the one with the bar code) and tossed the books. I rescued many of those and have gotten rid of most of them since then.

  4. KJ (aka Lola Granola) says:

    I’m doing it. I’ve compiled, um, one bag so far. Plus three bags of cookbooks. Knowing there’s a place to drop them off just down the road is a huge help. It makes me feel like I’m not just bagging them up to go sit in the garage.

    Now, getting rid of them so I can get more…there’s an idea!!!

  5. M says:

    random lurker, found your blog, while bloghopping…the books, and Sayers mention caught my attention. Keep them – at least, keep any that are you are at least ambivalent about!

    I am a major book pack-rat – I don’t care about any of my other possessions as much – and we’re in the process of moving, after 12 years. We now have 6 large bookcases, that are absolutely FULL of books, double shelved etc. – most are mass-market p/b, because I buy books to read, for the most part. And yes – my parents were/are the same way, and my brother and I both read and learnt so much from books they owned. And I am delighted to say, my son (11) is going the same way – I love English fiction (grew up in India, so lots of English authors) and have a lot of kid-lit from the 40s /50s – and he’s gotten into some of them in a big way. (Trease, Buckeridge). I own almost all the Ruth Rendell as well – don’t know if I will ever re-read them, but I like having them! (and my DH just called – the movers were shocked at the number of book-boxes they had to move – but I don’t care! :))

  6. KJ (aka Lola Granola) says:

    Thanks! Not one of my old kids books is going, that’s for sure, too. (As my best friend from childhood said on Facebook, KEEP THE TRIXIE BELDENS!) E. Nesbit, Pollyanna, Roller Skates are all staying, even though some of them required extensive packing tape repairs. I don’t care. My copy of Harriet the Spy is better than anyone elses!

    I wish I had a collection of 40s/50s kid lit. Envy you yours!